"Cities: The First 6,000 Years" by Monica L Smith < SALT

This is a past event

13 people went


A talk about the first 6,000 years of cities. What has changed and what has remained constant. Their beginnings as places of ritual and growth into places of exchange and permanent inhabitation. Monica L Smith is an archaeologist and anthropologist but her talk (and the book that accompanies it) have much of interest to architects, engineers, city planners, city dwellers and anyone with an interest in infrastructure or maintenance.


This is a screening of a Seminar About Long-Term Thinking (SALT) event filmed in San Francisco in August 02019. The screening starts at 18:30 and lasts 90 minutes (including a a Q&A with Stewart Brand). Food and drink is available from the Rawthmell's bar during the screening.
More drinks afterwards (first at the RSA, then almost certainly at a nearby pub).


Since 02006 the Long Now Foundation has held monthly Seminars About Long-term Thinking (SALT) events in San Francisco. In the latter months of 02019 Long Now London are screening some of our favourites from this ongoing series.

Our venue is "The Steps" a small amphitheatre in RSA House that’s available for social change conversations. On arrival at RSA House, ask staff at the front desk for directions to "The Steps" and they will point you downstairs into Rawthmell's coffee house.

After the screening we will of course have discussion over a few drinks, both at Rawthmell's and at a nearby pub.

Please RSVP here as space is limited. This event is organised by Long Now London, kindly hosted by the Royal Society of Arts. No need to book anything on the RSA website this time.


Description from Long Now in SF:

“Cities were the first Internet,” says archaeologist Monica Smith, because they were the first permanent places where strangers met in large numbers for entertainment, commerce, and romance. And the function and form of cities, she notes, have remained remarkably constant over their 6,000 years of history so far. Modern city dwellers would quickly find their way around any city in the past, given our shared architecture of broad avenues, monumental structures, and densely crowded residences.

What we learn from examining the long history of cities is what makes them so freeing and empowering for humans and humanity. Density has always been crucial. So has infrastructure, skill specialization, cultural diversity, intense trade with other cities, an economy of acquiring and discarding objects, the delights of fashion and art, religious focus and political focus, intellectual ferment, and technological innovation.

The digital internet has not replaced cities, nor is it likely that anything else will, Smith proposes, for the next 6,000 years.

Monica L. Smith is an anthropology professor and also a professor in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainabilityat UCLA. She has done archeological fieldwork in India, Bangladesh, Madagascar, Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Italy, and England. Her new book is Cities: The First 6,000 Years.