Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age

Norton. Feb. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9780393652666. $26.95. ARCHAEOL
Newitz is an opinion writer for the New York Times and author of novels including Autonomous and The Future of Another Timeline. In this latest work, she takes a time-transgressive look at how centers of urban development rise, thrive, and die. Newitz focuses on four prehistoric urban centers in order to give readers an understanding that, despite differences in time, place, and complexity, urban societies share many similarities. Important urban centers considered are Catalhoyuk, Pompeii, Angkor Wat, and Cahokia. The author poignantly expresses the clear similarities of the “life and death” of these centers of urban development, but also ties them to our understanding of present-day centers of urban population and the complexities of their organization and decay. This book represents a real-time perception of the modern urban age and the lessons learned from prehistory. The author’s observations are well-researched, current, and directly applicable to our modern lives. Four Lost Cities represents a contemporary companion to Elaine Morgan’s Falling Apart, the Rise and Fall of Urban Civilization (1972). Those interested in prehistoric urban complexity, ancient civilizations, and world history will benefit from this new book.
VERDICT An excellent contribution to literature on ancient civilization and complexity.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing