CLASSICAL WORLD CITIES IN EAST ASIA:       1000 BC TO 1000 AD

 

 

                   This is the second installment (for the first, see “Ancient World Cities 4000-1000”)    of the East Asian segment of a survey of world cities.   It covers the classical period that extends for the two millennia from 1000 BC to 1000 AD, and it shows in the two tables below those urban centers of East Asia whose population numbers might have exceeded the threshold of 100,000.   In fact, virtually all of the cities in this, classical, survey may be found in the range of 100,000 to 1 million.

 

                   The first survey, of Ancient World Cities attempted to identify cities whose inhabitants numbered 10,000 or more, and most of these could be found in the range of 10,000 to 100,000.   But in the classical world, the world population had advanced, from maybe around 50 million, to over 250 million.   Correspondingly, the size of cities had also risen, and that is why our focus is on the largest urban sites, those with the  most substantial population base.

 

                   The initial source of data for this listing is Tertius Chandler’s Four Thousand Years of Urban Growth (1987) that extends from -2250 to 1975.   The present survey differs from Chandler’s pioneering work in that it is limited to fairly large cities (described here as “world cities”, presumed to be, on account of their size,  of global rank) whereas Chandler’s list sought to extend to cities as small as those of 40,000 people.   On the other hand, this survey attempts to list data at regular intervals of 100 years (yielding 21 data points-in-time, as compared with 12 for Chandler, at irregular intervals).   It also brings to light a number of urban sites unknown to, or omitted by, that author.   For East Asia, his compilation yielded information on some 14 major cities (with some 30 data points in our range) whereas the present one produces about 90 data points on close to 30 great urban centers.

 

                   For each city listed here the tables show a population estimate for those points in time when its inhabitants might be thought to have reached, or exceed, one hundred thousand.   No entries appear in cells when that population might have fallen- for any number of reasons -  below that threshold or, obviously, when the city is reported to have been destroyed or abandoned.

 

                   In each case, the estimate reported here is based on archaeological and other data on the size of the relevant urban site (for which the work of K.C. Chang has been particularly relevant).   For walled cities, the extent of the within-walls area always mattered, the minimum area being in the region of 1,000 hectares.   A modest population coefficient of 100 persons per hectare was also assumed (and that might be a low figure).   The historical literature was checked for relevant data on the city’s history, its foundation, and for evidence of its fortunes, including rapid expansion, decline, or destruction.   The historians’ estimates were also consulted, rare though they might be.   The result, checked against Chandler’s figures, is presented in round figures but without any claim to especial precision.   The figures must be viewed basically as educated guesses indicating orders of magnitude that might be useful for comparative and trend-charting purposes but that cannot pretend to be precise population counts.   Census data are scarce, and usually refer to administrative districts rather than cities.

 

                   Here are some tentative conclusions suggested by this survey about the trajectory of East Asian urbanization:

 

1.       The great imperial capitals of Luoyang, and Changan, and finally Kaifeng, dominate the entire picture,   At their several highs, these placed among the top-3 in the world league of centers of civilization.  

 

2.       Most of the cities listed here are political capitals (with only a few exceptions)   Politics is in command of this particular universe, tracking both the rise and fall of these intricate social constructions.

 

3.   The periods of most vigorous urban growth  (as indicated by the number of world cities at each point-in-time) were however, not imperial but those of Spring and Autumn and Warring States (-500 to -300), of the Three Kingdoms (300-500), and of the later Tang era (700-800) when a regional system of cities started to emerge only to be rudely shaken by the final collapse of that rule.   The empire was less favorable to city growth than were systems of independent states.

 

4.       For the bulk of the classical era (as in the Ancient World too) the East Asian

urban system, while open to a variety of currents, including i.a. Buddhism,  was basically Chinese.   Only in the later Tang do cities appear outside China proper,  i.a. in Japan, and in the Liao realm.

 

                   This is a preliminary result of the rechecking of the list of cities from a variety of sources.   The purpose of posting it on the web is to open it to review and criticism by a wider audience.   That is why those wishing to comment on it, or to communicate their doubts, or suggestions for improvement, or information about cities and their populations are invited to e-mail their views to    modelski@u.washington.edu.

 

 

George Modelski

February 28, 2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.   EAST ASIA   -1000 to -100

 

 

1000

-900

-800

-700

-600

 

-500

 

-400

 

-300

 

-200

 

-100

 

HAO QING

100

125

125

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LUOYANG

 

 

 

100

100

200

240

240

 

 

LINZI

 

 

 

100

100

100

200

350

100

100

HSIA TU

 

 

 

 

100

100

300

300

 

 

XINTIAN

 

 

 

 

 

100

 

 

 

 

SUCHOU

 

 

 

 

 

 

100

100

 

 

QUFU

 

 

 

 

 

100

100

100

 

 

AN YI

 

 

 

 

 

100

100

100

 

 

SHANGQIU

 

 

 

 

 

100

130

100

 

 

XINZHENG

 

 

 

 

 

 

100

120

 

 

YONG

 

 

 

 

 

 

100

 

 

 

XIANGYANG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100

100

 

CHANGAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100

400

 

1

1

1

2

3

7

9

9

3

2

 

2.   EAST ASIA   1-1000

 

 

1

 

100

 

200

 

300

 

400

 

500

 

600

 

700

 

800

 

900

 

1000

 

LUOYANG

200

420

 

250

200

500

500

500

400

200

 

LINZI

100

 

100

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHANGAN

400

100

 

 

100

100

400

1000

800

100

 

TATUNG

 

 

 

 

100

200

 

 

 

 

 

SUCHOU

 

 

 

 

 

 

120

100

100

100

100

CHENGDU

100

 

 

 

 

 

 

100

100

 

 

WANXIAN

100

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NANJING

 

 

 

100

300

500

 

 

 

 

 

WUCHANG

 

 

 

 

 

 

100

 

 

 

 

YE

 

 

 

 

100

200

 

 

 

 

 

XINJANG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100

100

 

 

GUANGZHOU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

200

200

 

 

YOUZHOU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100

 

100

KAIFENG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

400

LINHUANG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

140

NARA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100

 

 

KYOTO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100

200

175

DALI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100

100

LHASA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100

 

 

 

5

2

1

2

5

5

4

6

10

5

6

 

 

 

Notes

 

HAO QING  near Xian,  capital of Western Zhou c.-1050 to -771.

 

LUOYANG   Royal city of Eastern Zhou  -771 to -249;

Later Han capital 25-    destroyed 195;

Wei capital  220-261;

Hsi Chin capital  265-311, sacked 311;

Northern Wei capital  494-529;

Sui-Tang western capital from 589;  emperors return to it 885-907.

 

LINZI   capital of Qi to -221;

large Han era textile workshops.

 

HSIATU   capital of Yan, occupied -697 to -226.

 

XINTIAN,  Shanxi,  last capital of Jin, to -454.

 

SUCHOU,  Jiangsu,  founded -514 as capital of Wu;

on Grand Canal after 587-.  

 

QUFU   capital of Lu, to -249.

 

AN YI   capital of Wei, -454 to 225.

 

SHANGQIU   capital of Song, ca. 600-300,

 

XINZHENG   capital of Zheng, to -375, then Han capital to 230.

 

YONG   capital of Qin, 677-350.

 

XIANGYANG   capital of Qin 350-206;  sacked 206;

 

CHANGAN   declared Han capital 202,  to 25;  largely destroyed 9-23;

sacked c.315;  revived as capital under Sui and Tang dynasties from 589;

881 sacked by Huang Zhao rebels;  885 emperors depart for Luoyang.

 

TATUNG   (earlier Ping-cheng) capital of Northern Wei 398-494.

 

CHENGDU   Sichuan,  great Tang commercial center;  second Tang capital late 8th century.

 

WANXIAN   on Yangzi,  Han iron manufacturing center.

 

NANJING   Six dynasties capital  220-587;  largely ruined 604;

revived under Southern Tang 937-975.

 

 

WUCHANG   c. 200 capital of Wu, one of Three Kingdoms

 

YE   South Hebei,  capital of Chieh, c. 400;  in Sui empire 589;

 

XINJANG   (Tai-yuan)   Shanxi,  HQ of Ho-tung commandery in Tang era.

 

GUANGZHOU      great Tang commercial port;  sacked 879.

 

YOUZHOU   on the site of Beijing, built in mid-Tang, destroyed by Khitans 947,

who built a new southern capital.

 

KAIFENG   capital of Song dynasty 960-1127

 

LINHUANG   Imperial capital of the Liao dynasty, built 918

 

NARA   capital of Japan 714-784.

 

KYOTO   capital of Japan 794-1869.

 

DALI   capital of Nanzhao federation of Tai kingdoms, 729-1253.

 

LHASA   capital of Tibet, founded c.630.