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Proto-city is a term usually used to describe large villages or towns of the Neolithic such as Jericho and Çatalhöyük,[1] but also any prehistoric settlement which has both rural and urban features, in an attempt to distinguish them from cities in later periods. 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, which dates back to the fourth millennium BC.[2]

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. [3]


  1. ^ 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."
  2. ^ Trypillian Civilization Journal
  3. ^ The Archaeology Coursebook: An Introduction to Themes, Sites, Methods and Skills