The Growth Of The First Native American Cities In North America Fit Into The Concept Of Adam Smith
Excavations on the territory of the cities of the Pueblo culture, the native American civilization of North America, showed that the level of well-being of their inhabitants grew along with the population, which was typical of European cities during the industrial revolution. The results of their work were published in the scientific journal Science Advances.
"Scientists traditionally believe that the economic growth of cities did not begin until the industrial revolution took place in Europe. Our excavations indicated that the scale effect clearly affected the cities of the Pueblo culture. The more people lived and worked together in one place, the more products they could produce," said Scott Ortman, a Professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder (USA), one of the authors of the study.
The founder of modern economic theory, Adam Smith, first drew attention to the fact that the level of well-being of citizens primarily depends on the size of the cities in which they live: the larger the settlement, the higher the average level of prosperity of its inhabitants. This pattern was later confirmed by the example of many European and Asian cities during the industrial revolution.
Smith attributed this phenomenon to the fact that the increase in the number of residents in the city creates more favorable conditions for the division of labor and the growth of specialization. This, in turn, increases labor productivity and accelerates economic growth, as well as the speed of innovation and scientific development.
Sociologists, economists, and historians have long debated whether these principles can be applied to new World civilizations that are not connected to Europe and Asia and have developed along a completely different trajectory. Ortman and his colleagues put this idea to the test by studying the Pueblo culture cities that existed in the Rio Grande valley in the 14th and 16th centuries.
Historians consider the Pueblo one of the oldest civilizations in North America. It originated about three thousand years ago. Unlike many other North American Indians, the Pueblos adopted a sedentary lifestyle around the First Millennium BC. Their settlements gradually grew and by the time Columbus arrived in the New World were comparable to major European cities.
By this time, as Ortman notes, there were several hundred settlements in the Rio Grande Valley, some of which were small villages, and others were fairly large cities with a population of several thousand inhabitants. Therefore, scientists decided to study the material state of each such settlement in order to test the theory of Adam Smith on the Pueblo.
Scientists were interested in two things, what distinguished these localities from each other and how their condition changed over time. To do this, scientists counted the number of different artifacts in each cultural layer, as well as estimated the size of the dwellings themselves and the quality of their construction.
An analysis of this data revealed a curious pattern that fully corresponded to Smith's theory. Every time the population of a village or city doubled, all indicators of its overall economic growth, including the number and variety of pottery in homes, increased by about 16%.
In this respect, as Ortman and his colleagues point out, the towns and villages of the Pueblos were no different from European and Asian localities during the industrial revolution. All this, according to scientists, suggests that the laws of urban growth were the same for all historical eras and civilizations, which may explain why urbanization continues around the world, despite the many problems it brings with it in third world countries.