Between 6000 and 4000 BC, south-east Europe and Asia Minor were dotted with cities and towns.
They were laid out in a rational manner using environment-friendly techniques and biodegradable materials.
The ruins they left behind have never posed any environmental threat. However, they had one big advantage in not being burdened with scientific advancements.
Several centuries later, we are creating cities which not only create environmental problems for us but also for our next generations.
Among the early cities, Eridu, Ur and Al-ubaid in West Asia were founded around 5500 BC. Neolithic settlements such as Ugarit in Syria and Nineveh in Iraq were founded around 6000 BC, but they were not full-fledged towns.
The first walled towns in Africa were constructed around 3300 BC. Knossos, Phaestos and Mallia in Crete came up around 2000 BC and the first city of Monte Alban in Mexico was built around 500 BC.
Harappa, in the Indus Valley region, started as a settlement around 3500 BC and grew into a city by 2500 BC together with Mohenjo-Daro, which is the more popular choice for tourists and history books as the ruins were discovered in a relatively intact condition. Harappa, unfortunately, did not enjoy such good fortune.
Harappa was unearthed in the mid-19th century when the British brought railways to this country and decided to link Lahore and Multan in 1856.
To be continued
-Partha Ranjan Das
The author is an architect and urban designer