Planned cities are organisms that reflect social phenomena as well as political and religious systems. They are vessels of life that manage to capture the Zeitgeist of each time and engrave it on the built environ- ment. In recent years, a lot of light has been shed on contemporary cities. Ancient cities, however, remain largely shrouded in mystery. The richness of cultures and civilizations bequeathed to us in a built environment are hidden in ruins that must be decoded in order to understand the history of the transformation of these cities. The cities from Before the Common Era (BCE), span a period of a few thousand years and promise an enthralling urban narrative. From Latin America to the Middle East, this era saw the realization of some of the most important ancient New Towns. Some might argue that in order to understand a modern city’s culture we simply need to observe which buildings dominate its horizons. However, due to globalization, major historical events and widespread ideological and cultural movements, we can identify an unexpectedly homogeneous mind-set behind contemporary New Towns. But the past, thanks to archaeologists who excavate and unveil the different layers of history, ensures the enhancement of our urban vocabulary and understanding.
Excavating the Past, New Towns in the B.C. Era is a publication of the International New Town Institute (INTI).
Rachel Keeton, Michelle Provoost
Ewout Dorman, Gerard Hadders
International New Town Institute
© INTI and author, Almere 2012