Eli5: How do newer cities get built over more ancient cities?


I hear about archaeologists finding layers of old cities below newer ones. My brain can’t make it work. I keep imagining an Amsterdam or a Chicago, decaying, then just building atop it?

In: 14

When they find intact buildings like that they were usually buried by some natural disaster like Pompeii or intentionally buried like Gobekli Tepe.

Usually when they say they’re finding older cities under the newer ones they just mean the traces of the city, usually the foundations like in the case of Troy. In that case the city has usually been destroyed by fire and the people there built atop the ruins.

Sometimes it’s just a building that got sealed up for one reason or another and built around so much it was forgotten about. Remember building codes are a new phenomenon.

Cities are built in good places for cities. This spot has say good farming, a river for trade and fishing, and it’s coastal for better trade and fishing. If it’s not claimed someone will build a city there. If there is already a city there their will still be buildings replaced and name changes until the old city still counts as lost under the old.

Cities grow upward, not talking skyscrapers talking about the ground. A million things, building materials, foods. … are imported. Many of those things are dropped close and the ground level rises. So if we replace a house it’s foundation is often well above the old house. (Midden is the archeologist’s word)