The Model City

The Model City – Drivers and Mechanisms of long-term Urban Evolution and Resilience 

In the endeavor to understand and enhance the resilience of contemporary urban centers facing various challenges, the 'Model City' project, under the leadership of Iza Romanowska, undertakes a historical exploration. 

Over ten thousand years ago, the seeds of urban life were sown as people began clustering together, giving birth to the very first cities. Since then, these urban centers have emerged across the globe, spanning countless time periods and cultures. Yet, despite their significance, we still know remarkably little about why some cities thrive while others falter, or the factors that dictate their resilience. 

This scholarly initiative primarily focuses on examining the long-term evolution of urban cities by harnessing cutting-edge computer technologies and extensive archaeological datasets. It seeks to extract valuable insights that can be applied to address contemporary challenges, including pandemics, climate crises, and conflicts. These insights are intended to provide predictions regarding city persistence over decades and centuries. Consequently, the project seeks to uncover lessons from the historical trajectories of cities, with the overarching goal of informing strategies that can effectively address contemporary challenges.  

The team will utilize meticulously gathered data from generations of archaeologists who have studied key ancient cities spanning the Roman Empire, Classical Mesoamerica, and Medieval Northern Europe. This approach will enable the team to examine the common causes of resilience.   

More about the project

Project affiliation


The project is supported by the European Research Council (ERC) with EURO 1,498,511

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