What changes in Western society gave rise to the city?

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I would agree that the rise of agriculture, especially the cultivation of high-yield grain crops like wheat, paved the way for the rise of the city.

Hunter-gatherer nomadic societies had to keep their populations small because there were only so many resources, especially food resources, to support them. However, the...

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I would agree that the rise of agriculture, especially the cultivation of high-yield grain crops like wheat, paved the way for the rise of the city.

Hunter-gatherer nomadic societies had to keep their populations small because there were only so many resources, especially food resources, to support them. However, the cultivation of grain, which could reliably feed many people and, importantly, could be stored to provide food in lean times, allowed for population growth.

Cultivating grain tied humans to one spot, which also led to the growth of cities because people were able to put down roots. As populations grew, humans could diversify and specialize. In a hunter-gatherer society, everyone is basically equal (though a leader might emerge) and everyone, divided only by gender, does the same jobs.

More population, however, means that not everyone has to devote most of their time to food production. Part of the population can develop other talents, such as becoming architects, and part of the population can be used to construct big building projects, such as those needed for a city.

In essence, cultivating grains and thereby increasing the human population led to the growth of cities.

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In addition to that of the above answer, another factor that gave rise to cities was the social necessity of reducing transport costs. Bringing everyone together in one place substantially reduced such costs for people, goods, and ideas. Lowering costs in this way ensured greater levels of worker productivity, leading to the accumulation of substantial wealth. This development more than any other convinced many that urbanization was the way forward.

As societies became larger and more developed, it became imperative to defend them from hostile forces. Of their very nature, cities were much easier to defend from military attack than scattered settlements such as villages and hamlets. Increasingly, people looked to cities for protection against marauding hordes of barbarian armies, who constantly posed a threat to the prosperity and stability of early civilizations.

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Probably the most significant change in society that made cities possible was the spread of agriculture. The planting of crops meant that people would settle in one place to live, rather than live as nomadic hunters or gatherers, or animal herders. This meant people also built more secure and permanent style dwellings, which led to more innovations in architecture and building. Agriculture also gave rise to more refined concepts of private property and ownership than had existed previously. As well, agriculture allowed refinement of foodways which identified and characterized cultures and allowed for communities to band together based upon the customs and ritual of daily life.

It may also be true that agriculture gave rise indirectly to urbanization because the overuse of land, including deforestation and depletion of soil, made life in rural areas untenable. There would then be a need for communities to relocate, to better water sources or places with more abundant resources. Some of these aspects of urbanization were affected by the specifics of location and climate, as well as weather patterns or catastrophes that may have affected human settlements.  

 

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