To understand why early cities thrived, look not to the temples of kings but to their subjects’ bustling neighbourhoods
two critic bits aimed at Graeber & Wengrow, the Dawn of Everything remarks on the egalitarian organization of early cities but stops at politics and liberties, while Smith in this essay explains more comple dynamics that shape cities. Complexity, is there real opposition here, does complexity determine people to loose agency in urban organization? still G&W try to show that different places came to different solutions.
the second bit is methodology, or more like basic approach, there is an indirect stab at G&W trying to distill a grand theory from the trove of archeological data. Graeber’s attitude toward sociobiology and economistic approaches stings Smith who like to study ancient cities with the network theory approach used for modern cities in geography, using Luis Bettencourt’s work.
The article is a good read, the approach is the same grassroots, organic, starting from people and neighbourhoods rather than temples and kings. Citis need not have avenues and plazas, cities are made of neighbourhoods