American Anthropologist

Urbanization within a Dynamic Environment: Modeling Bronze Age Communities in Upper Mesopotamia



Here agent-based models are employed to explore the behavior of small communities and their associated economic systems within an area of climatically marginal environment in northern Syria and Iraq. The examples, drawn from late prehistoric and Bronze Age societies that developed at the onset of urbanization, show how small communities might respond to various resource stresses and environmental fluctuations. The computer simulations demonstrate that some households gain resources at the expense of others and the community becomes more economically differentiated through time with some households benefiting at the expense of others. The approaches discussed demonstrate that complex societies were capable of a wide range of responses to stresses that could be absorbed or amplified via a number of social, economic, or demographic processes.