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      Why Archaeology Is Necessary for a Theory of Urbanization

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          Abstract

          In recent decades researchers in several disciplines have promoted ‘urban science’ to acknowledge the advantages of multidisciplinary approaches and the expanding ability to collect data for contemporary cities. Although practitioners tend to treat the city as the object of study, in our view the more appropriate focus is the process of urbanization. When framed this way, the archaeological record becomes central to a robust theory of urbanization, and even helps to clarify aspects of urbanization that are difficult to study in a present-day context. In this paper, we illustrate this point by discussing examples where archaeological evidence has clarified and expanded aspects of settlement scaling theory, an approach that was initially developed in the context of contemporary cities but which applies to settlements of all shapes, sizes, and periods.

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          Economic growth in a cross-section of cities

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            Scaling laws of human interaction activity.

            Even though people in our contemporary technological society are depending on communication, our understanding of the underlying laws of human communicational behavior continues to be poorly understood. Here we investigate the communication patterns in 2 social Internet communities in search of statistical laws in human interaction activity. This research reveals that human communication networks dynamically follow scaling laws that may also explain the observed trends in economic growth. Specifically, we identify a generalized version of Gibrat's law of social activity expressed as a scaling law between the fluctuations in the number of messages sent by members and their level of activity. Gibrat's law has been essential in understanding economic growth patterns, yet without an underlying general principle for its origin. We attribute this scaling law to long-term correlation patterns in human activity, which surprisingly span from days to the entire period of the available data of more than 1 year. Further, we provide a mathematical framework that relates the generalized version of Gibrat's law to the long-term correlated dynamics, which suggests that the same underlying mechanism could be the source of Gibrat's law in economics, ranging from large firms, research and development expenditures, gross domestic product of countries, to city population growth. These findings are also of importance for designing communication networks and for the understanding of the dynamics of social systems in which communication plays a role, such as economic markets and political systems.
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              Power-Law Distributions in Empirical Data

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                jua
                jua
                Journal of Urban Archaeology
                Brepols Publishers (Turnhout, Belgium )
                2736-2426
                2736-2434
                January 2020
                : 1
                : 151-167
                Article
                10.1484/J.JUA.5.120914

                Open-access

                Product
                Self URI (journal page): https://www.urbanarchaeology.net/

                Urban studies, Archaeology, History

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