A proto-city, or a proto-town, is a large village or town of the Neolithic such as Jericho and Çatalhöyük, and also any prehistoric settlement which has both rural and urban features. A proto-city is distinguished from a true city in that it lacks planning and centralized rule. For example, Jericho evidently had a class system, but no roads, while Çatalhöyük apparently lacked social stratification. This is what distinguishes them from the first city-states of the early Mesopotamian cities in the 4th millennium B.C. 
Prehistoric Egypt and the Ubaid period of Sumer featured what some call proto-cities. The break from these later mentioned settlements and urban settlements is the emergence of Eridu, the first Sumerian city, in the Uruk period around 4000 BC. A European example of this would be the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture of eastern Europe and north of the Black Sea, and which dates back to the fourth millennium BC.
- Rice, Michael (2003). Egypt's Legacy: The Archetypes of Western Civilization: 3000 to 30 BC. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0-203-48667-2. "On the Konya plain in central Anatolia lies the extraordinary settlement of Catal Huyuk, which was nothing less than a proto-city (perhaps, indeed, the proto-city), founded in the mid-seventh millennium BC."
- The Archaeology Coursebook: An Introduction to Themes, Sites, Methods and Skills
- Trypillian Civilization Journal