X00: A Discourse on Urban Civilization in West Asia

Following the progress made by each research project, as detailed below, the research group X00 aims to promote activities that would bring together the various understandings on the subjects such as urban prosperity, transformation, and downfalls; urban landscapes; social functions of cities; and coexistence of a city with its environment which were obtained through empirical research. It attempt to comprehend this body of knowledge as whole under an integrated and unified project. Furthermore, in addition to the empirical research summarizations, our visions based on civilization theories and urban sociology in relation to such questions as, “what are cities in relation to human societies and the environment?” and, “what type of cities should we be orienting ourselves to, if we were to build a sound future for both the human society and the global environment?” will be cast out to the society at large.

A01: First Signs of Urban Civilization

Research Project A01 is organized by archaeologists specialized in the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods in West Asia, geoscientists specialized in geology and natural mineral resources in West Asia, and archaeozoologists and archaeobotanists investigating subsistence economy in prehistoric West Asia. Research Project A01 investigates historical background towards urbanization and focuses on large public buildings, mortuary rituals, long-distance trade and densely populated settlements, which emerged in the Neolithic period before urbanization.

A02: Landscape and Structure of Ancient West Asian Cities

Research project A02 involves two research groups on ancient West Asia and ancient Egypt, respectively. The first research group aims to obtain a diachronic understanding of the transformation and diversity of the urban landscape and social functions of cities in Mesopotamia and its surrounding areas. It is organized by researchers specialized in various periods between the 3rd millennium BC to the AD 3rd century in the fields of archaeology, philology, history, geomatics, and environmental science. For the research group on ancient Egypt, researchers who are engaged in archeological excavations across Egypt, and in historical research of different times, analyze the various aspects of urbanization that have recently been evidenced in ancient Egypt, once called "a civilization without cities".

B01: Environment and Resources of West Asia

Specialists from the earth science fields such as field geology, geochemistry, geochronology, micropaleontology, environmental sciences participate in this project to elucidate the mutual interaction between the early cities and its environment by conducting analysis of sediments, water, and artifacts across West Asia. Our research focus includes processes of accumulation of resources (e.g., metals, building materials, fuels, foods, water etc.) into urban area, the development of communication and transportation networks (especially through canals), and clay and metallurgical technologies developed with urbanization processes.

C01: West Asian Cities from the Middle Period to the Modern Period

Research project C01 is comprised of two research groups; historical studies and urban planning study. The historical research group is organized by researchers who specialized in West Asian history, Middle Eastern area study, and Islamic architectural history. It aims to obtain a diachronic understanding of the geographical change and the network transformation of the major cities in the medieval and modern West Asia. It also leads to reconsideration of the “Islamic cities,” which are religiously and ethnically diverse. The urban planning study group is organized by researchers who specialized in urban planning history, cultural anthropology, and cultural heritage studies. It aims to analyze the multi-layered structure of West Asian cities by focusing on the following points; the coexistence and antagonism between residents with varied awareness of their cultural identities, the ways of preserving cultural heritage, and urban restoration after calamities.

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