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3000 BC

Appearance of the first towns

Appearance of the first towns in the Middle East, in the region known as the Fertile Crescent (in Europe: around 1200 BC).

These towns grouped together large populations in a limited area. They developed more sophisticated social and political hierarchies, and labour was clearly divided into agricultural activities and urban activities, notably craft industries. According to estimates, some of these towns had populations of up to 50,000.

Three factors helped to foster the emergence of towns: increasing sedentarisation to cultivate land; advances in agricultural techniques which boosted crop yields and made it possible to produce surpluses that could be stored and traded; improvements in transport techniques and routes which made it easier to transfer goods from fields to towns.

The grouping together of people in towns led to profound changes in ways of life and in economic, social and political relationships. As the French historian Fernand Braudel wrote, « Towns are like electric transformers.They increase tension, accelerate the rhythm of exchange and constantly recharge human life ». (Civilisation and Capitalism, 1967).

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