Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UCLA Previously Published Works bannerUCLA

Cities and states in geohistory


In his last major work, Charles Tilly presents a schematic history of the development of cities, states, and trust networks over the past five millennia. I reconfigure his “look across history” from a more assertively spatial perspective, pushing back the starting point of the geohistory of cities another 5,000 years to what is presented as the first of three “urban revolutions.” From this geohistorical viewpoint, cities and states do not emerge together de novo in Sumeria but the state is seen as being generated from earlier urbanization processes or what can be described as the stimulus of urban agglomeration. The generative power of cities or urban spatial causality, rarely addressed in the social science literature, is being re-discovered today as a primary source of societal development, technological innovation, and cultural creativity. In my schematic geohistory, the stimulus of urban agglomeration is traced over 10,000 years from its early role in the development of full-scale agriculture and the remarkable artistic creativity emanating from Çatalhöyük, the largest of the earliest urban settlements; through the formation of politically charged city-states and city-based empires; to the city-generated Industrial Revolution and the origins of urban industrial capitalism; ending in a look at the contemporary reconfiguration of cities and states and the shift from metropolitan to regional urbanization.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View