THE BEGINNING OF CITIES by Leonard Weisgard

THE BEGINNING OF CITIES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Despite large pages and a plethora of pictures, the substance is slight; certainly Arthur Gregor's less imposing How the World's First Cities Began (1967, 605, J-219) has more to offer at the same age level. Both feature the role of irrigation in fostering settlement and encouraging cooperation; both point to surpluses as permitting specialization of labor; both attribute the stratification of society to increasing wealth. The two books differ, however, in the degree of certitude each assumes for its construct: Gregor acknowledges that his is a hypothesis. His is also the fuller, more thoughtful text (i.e. stability leads to immobilization as well as growth). That this is more abundantly illustrated doesn't signify; most of the drawings are representations of artifacts--pottery, figures, reliefs--that are better examined (and better-looking) in photographs; others fail to diagram (or label) what the text describes. Some of the incidental information (about religion, transportation, writing) is useful is not unique. This might serve as an introduction to Mesopotamian life (there's an extensive glossary and other aids) but it falls short of Gregor as an examination of the origin and evolution of communal living.

Pub Date: Nov. 21st, 1968
Publisher: Coward-McCann