The evolution of agro-urbanism: A case study from Angkor, Cambodia

Alison Carter, Sarah Klassen, Miriam Stark, Martin Polkinghorne, Piphal Heng, Damian Evans, Rachna Chhay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The vast agro-urban settlements that developed in the humid tropics of Mesoamerica and Asia contained both elite civic-ceremonial spaces and sprawling metropolitan areas. Recent studies have suggested that both local autonomy and elite policies facilitated the development of these settlements; however, studies have been limited by a lack of detail in considering how, when, and why these factors contributed to the evolution of these sites. In this paper, we use a fine-grained diachronic analysis of Angkor’s landscape to identify both the state-level policies and infrastructure and bottom-up organization that spurred the growth of Angkor as the world’s most extensive pre-industrial settlement complex. This degree of diachronic detail is unique for the ancient world. We observe that Angkor’s low-density metropolitan area and higher-density civic-ceremonial center grew at different rates and independently of one another. While local historical factors contributed to these developments, we argue that future comparative studies might identify similar patterns.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101323
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Urbanism
  • Agro-urbanism
  • Demography
  • Cambodia
  • Angkor
  • Southeast Asia


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