Factors that contributed to the origin and development of cities.

Topics: City, Construction, Settlements Pages: 6 (1855 words) Published: May 9, 2006
Introduction

In many forms of settlements the status of the cities have been determined by factors and various other influences; these are known as urban form determinants. There are three different sources of determinants. Firstly, are the geographical 'natural world' determinants. These include the climate, topography and the availability of construction materials. The second are known as 'man made' determinants which are comprised of many things such as economic, political, religious, defence. Thirdly are 'location' determinants, which make up organic growth settlements and planned urban settlements (Morris[1], 1994)

As discussed,'Natural world' determinants are made up of topography, climate and construction materials. These determinants were attributes to the location of a settlement. They played a part in the shaping of all historic urban form, both organic growth and planned settlements. These mainly contributed to the origin of cities. (Morris[1], 1994).

The topography is the description or representation on a map of the surface features of any area, including land forms and other objects, and aspects of natural origin (Readers Digest, 1964). The settlements are determined by the terrain on which people settle. Morris (1,1994) describes the different types of terrain such as hilltop, seaside, river side and prairie areas. It is extremely difficult to build a settlement on land with a gradient (such as a hillside) and so land should be flat wherever possible, this is because of mud slides and steep slopes. This should not be confused, as it often is, with low-lying land: indeed the top of a high hill or plateau may also be flat. However, it is possible to build a settlement on a gradient, though this is considerably more time consuming and expensive. This tends to be done only where there is limited space (Dilley, Earle, Euston-Brown, Keats, Ravenscroft, 2001). This explains why early settlers always looked for level ground to settle on.

The fertility of the soil is a contributing factor to the origin of a city, as people migrate towards cities with fertile soil in order to grow crops. An example of this is in Greece where the land is very fertile, but it is a very mountainous area with limited land available. This resulted in many small independent states which each had a mountainous urban nucleus, surrounded by countryside. Morris (1,1994)considers how natural features contributed to the shape of the settlements by determining the boundaries between them.

Climate is the complex in average of atmospheric phenomena which includes temperature, rainfall, humidity and wind. This happens near the earths surface over a period of years (Reader's Digest Association, 1964). The structure of the architecture of the buildings in the early settlements was influenced by the climatic conditions of the area in which they settled. The need for man to shelter himself against the climatic conditions was of great importance in the establishment of cities. For example, in Greece, people were forced to build houses incorporating much ventilation, due to the country's high temperatures and the lack of rainfall during the summer. This in turn encouraged a lifestyle of open air living, which forged democracy and free thought as a way of life (Morris[1], 1994).

Construction materials refers to the local availability of materials used to construct cities (Reader's Digest, 1964). The abundance of local materials determined the medium of which the buildings were to be predominantly built. Either wood or stone was needed to build early settlements, therefore a forest, wood or hillside with crags was required to source the materials (Morris[1], 1994). It would therefore, be vital that these were readily available. Today, more choices are of course available; whereas in these earlier times settlements would need wood for fuel, therefore an area densely populated with trees would be chosen as the settlement site. In Greece there...
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