Urban Mind: Aims

1. Develop the concept of Urban Mind synthesised from comparative studies of long term development of urbanism in the Middle East and shorter term studies of urban cognitive forms and organization in the region.

To achieve this we will assess the spatial organization of ruined and existing towns and their relation to cultural parameters such as language and identity. We begin with:

* (a) a multi-scalar analysis of urban patterns of cognition and associated landscapes using a variety of documentary sources as well as GIS methodology;
* (b) the spatial organization of a limited selection of small towns and city states
as well as larger cities and metropoli,
* (c) in relation to Byzantium-Istanbul and oasis cities
* (d) the analysis of language structure/syntax in urban and non-urban areas.

2. Identify periods of significant environmental change in the Middle East using the available high resolution multi-proxy data.

Environmental change can trigger urbanisation as well as crisis in urban societies. The second aim involves societal changes in consecutive periods with varying climatic conditions. We will study the cultural dynamics associated with the transition between the two and incorporate these into our concept of Urban Mind. Four model environmental situations will be investigated:

* (a) Hydrographic changes in Egypt and Mesopotamia and the effects on early civilizations.
* (b) Environmental factors affecting the collapse of the Late Bronze Age Aegean palatial civilizations
* (c) The effects of the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. We will develop this link to environmental studies in co-operation with Prof. Karin Holmgren (Stockholm Univ.) and scientists from the University of Aberdeen.

3. Assess the utility of the Urban Mind concept for understanding socio-environmental interactions in time depth in a specific urban complex e.g. Istanbul

We select Byzantium-Istanbul as a case study to demonstrate the relevance of the Urban Mind concept integrated with information on climate change. Wes will assess the relevance of the long term perspective for management of urban systems facing the need to transform significant aspects of their organization in the face of rapidly changing global conditions. We find it important to develop our ideas in close cooperation with Stockholm Resilience Centre in terms of science and research as well as policy links as in the Resilience Centre Programme on Urban Social-Ecological Systems and Globalization.

4. Consider the global multi-cultural implications of the Urban Mind concept by incorporating comparative perspectives from northern Europe, Africa, Eastern and South Asia and the Americas.

The Urban Mind has multiple origins and a viable concept must have a global dimension. In order to incorporate this in the idea development project we will draw upon the existing network of the Department of Archaeology and develop three study frames:

* (a) in the high latitude areas with a North Sea centred area, 500-1700 CE (through the existing cooperation with University of Aberdeen
* (b) in the tropical Southern Africa 500-1700 CE (through the existing cooperation with University of Pretoria and African Archaeology Network); and
* (c) in the Neotropics centred on southern Mesoamerica 500-1700 CE (through established competences at the department and existing networks of colleagues in the United States and Latin America).

In each area we have access to refined studies of the cognitive aspects of urbanism and already established settlement data sets amenable to multi-scalar GIS analysis and very high resolution climate change data.