Watch 6,000 Years of Urbanization in 3 Minutes

A new study from Yale University mapped urban centers from 3700 B.C. to 2000 A.D. Now, Max Galka at Metrocosm has created a fun video using that geocoded data set. You can see the video below:

In the Yale-led paper, published in Scientific Data, the authors wrote about the significance of their work:

“Whether it is for timely response to catastrophes, the delivery of disaster relief, assessing human impacts on the environment, or estimating populations vulnerable to hazards, it is essential to know where people and cities are geographically distributed. Additionally, the ability to geolocate the size and location of human populations over time helps us understand the evolving characteristics of the human species, especially human interactions with the environment.”

The video is also very nifty, as it allows us to easily visualize how cities came to be and grew. In an email, Galka told City Lab why he created this video, and what he found interesting about it:

“Most datasets available go back only a few years or decades at most. This is the first one I’ve seen that covers 6 millennia. I’m a big fan of history, so after reading the study, I thought it would be interesting to visualize the data and see if it offers some perspective… . What I found most surprising was how early some of the MesoAmerican cities formed, several hundred years before the first cities in Europe.”


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