Settlement Scaling Theory: Bridging the Study of Ancient and Contemporary Urban Systems

29 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2019

See all articles by José Lobo

José Lobo

Arizona State University (ASU)

Luis Bettencourt

University of Chicago - Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation

Michael E. Smith

Arizona State University (ASU) - School of Human Evolution and Social Change

Scott Ortman

Department of Archaeology, University of Colorado Boulder

Date Written: May 26, 2019

Abstract

A good general theory of urbanization should account for empirical regularities that are shared among contemporary urban systems and ancient settlement systems known through archaeology and history. The identification of such shared properties has been facilitated by research traditions in each field that define cities and settlements as areas that capture networks of social interaction embedded in space. Using Settlement Scaling Theory (SST)—a set of hypotheses and mathematical relationships that together generate predictions for how measurable quantitative attributes of settlements are related to their population size—we show that, using these definitions, aggregate properties of ancient settlement systems and contemporary metropolitan systems scale up in similar ways across time, geography and culture. Settlement scaling theory thus provides a unified framework for understanding and predicting these regularities across time and space.

Keywords: cities, premodern cities, data, comparative urbanism, settlement scaling

Suggested Citation

Lobo, Jose and Bettencourt, Luis and Smith, Michael E. and Ortman, Scott, Settlement Scaling Theory: Bridging the Study of Ancient and Contemporary Urban Systems (May 26, 2019). Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation Research Paper No. 6, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3427336 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3427336

Jose Lobo

Arizona State University (ASU) ( email )

Farmer Building 440G PO Box 872011
Tempe, AZ 85287
United States

Luis Bettencourt (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation ( email )

5735 S Ellis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Michael E. Smith

Arizona State University (ASU) - School of Human Evolution and Social Change ( email )

Box 872402
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ 85287
United States
480-727-9520 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.public.asu.edu/~mesmith9/

Scott Ortman

Department of Archaeology, University of Colorado Boulder ( email )

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
107
Abstract Views
437
rank
262,205
PlumX Metrics