Date of Award

Summer 7-27-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Coastal Resilience

Committee Chair

Robert Pauly

Committee Chair School

Coastal Resilience

Committee Member 2

John J. St. Marie

Committee Member 2 School

Coastal Resilience

Committee Member 3

Tom Lansford

Committee Member 3 School

Coastal Resilience

Committee Member 4

Iliyian Iliev

Committee Member 4 School

Social Science and Global Studies


This dissertation adds to the literature on Economic Development through the development of a Typology of Economy applicable to the earliest cities. Understanding the evolution of these early economies is a crucial step in understanding the past to assist in the establishment of policies for the future. This is especially important in the light of the environmental and sustainability challenges facing the globe today.

The cities in the comparative case study include the Third Dynasty of Ur in Mesopotamia, the New Kingdom of Thebes in Egypt, and Classical Athens in Greece. These cities are chosen for the case study for 1) meeting the minimum criteria of cityhood, 2) relatively broad archaeological evidence, and 3) sufficient separation from one another both spatially and temporally. The research is designed around a framework adapted from the development of typologies contributions of Collier, LaPorte, and Seawright (2012) and the comparative economic analysis of Varieties of Capitalism by Hall and Soskice (2021). The economic framework of the analysis includes the comparison of the flows of capital in a theoretical ancient economy. These capital flows include labor capital, financial capital, human capital, and public goods. The flows are differentiated by production, consumption, and extraction within five discrete socioeconomic classes, unskilled workers, skilled workers, professionals, merchants, and elites, and measured across two dimensions: market type, and institutional legitimacy. These two dimensions form the x and y axes of a two-dimensional typology, ranging from liberal to controlled for market type, and de facto to de jure for institutional legitimacy. The determination of these measurements is based on the current archaeological literature available for the three cases, with the lack of any official institutional control of the economic component resulting in a default score of liberal market and de facto institutional legitimacy. The market score is adapted directly from Hall and Soskice, while the institutional legitimacy score is adapted from Douglass C. North’s classification of institutions as formal or informal (1990). The results of the analysis reveal that the ancient societies used a variety of methods to solve the economic complexities of urbanization resulting in two broad typological categories. Ur III and Thebes received a liberal market/de jure institutional rating, while Athens received a liberal market/de facto institutional typology. The individual capital flows demonstrated both a wide diversity of typologies in labor and human capital, and a remarkable homogeneity in financial capital and the provision of public goods. The analysis also produced a database of quantitative data useful for additional experiments, such as calculating levels of socioeconomic stratification in the society.