To begin the discussion board posting, we can consider the implications of two newly discovered settlements in the Americas – Caral and Cahokia – on the urban origins debate (i.e. diffusion urbanism versus nuclear urbanism).

Do these two cases provide strong, maybe irrefutable, evidence for the nuclear urbanism theory? Or are these two cases just aberrations – i.e. exceptions to the rule(i.e. diffusion urbanism)? What are your thoughts on the nuclear urbanism vs. diffusion urbanism debate?

A study published in April 2001 has dated the ruins of Caral in Peru to 2600 BC, thereby making it the oldest known city in the Americas, thriving around the same time when pyramids and urban settlements existed in Egypt. Visit any the following websites for an overview of Caral:

Dunham, W. “Caral: Oldest City in the Americas.” In HIKIA [Online] 2001. Available:

Fountian, H. “Archaeological Site in Peru is Called Oldest City in Americas.” In YOURDON Report Discussion Group, Message 1934 [Online] 2001. Available:

“Six Ancient Pyramids Found in Peru Oldest City in Americas?” In Labyrinthina [Online] 2003. Available:

Many scholars content that urban origins in North America are a product of diffusion urbanism (via Spanish, French, and English colonial settlement) since none of the pre-European villages are deemed to have attained urban status. They argue that urban civilization in North America was limited to the Maya and Aztec civilizations of Mexico. Cahokia, located in the heartland of America (in the Mississippi Valley, east of modern St. Louis), was the largest indigenous (pre-Colombian) city north of Mexico yet its existence and importance were overlooked during the 1800s because political/racial motives. Archaeological interpretations confirm that Cahokia was inhabited by an advanced Native civilization before European contact. Yet, earlier scholars argued that the city and its monuments could not have been designed and built by “savages”. Instead, the city’s origin was attributed to errant Phoenician mariners and even to lost Welsh explorers. These fanciful ideas have now been dismissed by modern archaeological excavations and historical investigations.

Visit any of the following websites for an overview of Cahokia:

Iseminger, W.R. “Mighty Cahokia.” In Archaeology 29 (3) [Online] 1996. Available:

Seppa, N. “Ancient Cahokia: Metropolitan Life on the Mississippi.” In Washington Post [Online] 1997. Available:

Space, C. “Ancient North America: Cahokia.” In Historia [Online] 2001. Available:

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