1ère de couverture70 000 years ago, Homo sapiens left Africa to colonize the world. 6,000 years ago, he founded the first cities. Today, in the era of city networks, he is creating increasingly wide and complex metropolitan regions. From prehistory to the era of metropolises, man has occupied the earth’s space in an infinite variety of ways, under the influence of a multitude of factors. How did the Bantu populate a space already occupied by the Pygmies in equatorial Africa? How were cities born in the Bronze Age?

How did the pueblo society develop and then disappear in the United States? What were the effects of Romanization on the settlement of southern Gaul? How did the village system emerge around the year 1000 in Europe? This book addresses twelve major changes in global settlement formalized as “transitions”.

What is a transition? How can it be identified in the empirical field? Archaeologists, historians, linguists, and geographers combine their efforts to construct, analyze, and compare models of settlement transition in world history. Observing the particular, they seek the universal. This book proposes a method for understanding the laws of human settlement inthe very long term.

Lena Sanders (dir.)
Géographie-cités, UMR 8504, CNRS-Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris. Director of research at the CNRS and member of the Géographie-cités laboratory in Paris. Her work focuses on the evolution of cities and settlement systems and favors an interdisciplinary approach.

Read in open access Lena Sanders (dir.). Settling the World: from Prehistory to the Metropolis Era. Presses universitaires François-Rabelais, 2021 or below:


Sander van der Leeuw


Lena Sanders


A collective and interdisciplinary project on the transitions in settlement systems
Denise Pumain, Lena Sanders, Thérèse Libourel et al.

Chapter 1: Disciplinary convergences on the concept of transition

Application to a corpus of twelve transitions between 70 000 BP and 2050
Arnaud Banos, Florent Le Néchet, Marie-Jeanne Ouriachi et al.

Chapter 3: Simulating transition: an introduction to spatio-temporel models

Christophe Coupé, Jean-Marie Hombert, Florent Le Néchet et al.

Chapter 4: Transition 1: Modelling the migrations and peopling of new geographic areas by Homo sapiens

Denise Pumain, Clara Schmitt et Sébastien Rey-Coyrehourcq

Chapter 7: Transition 4: Modelling the emergence of cities

François Favory, Hélène Mathian, Laurent Schneider et al.

Chapter 10: Transition 7: From the ancient to the medieval world (4th-8th centuries)

Cécile Tannier, Alain Franc, Marie-Jeanne Ouriachi et al.

Chapter 14: Between models and narratives: transitions in settlement systems