Skip to content Skip to navigation

VIRTUAL EVENT: BOOK TALK: Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age

Wednesday, March 31, 2021 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm
Registration is requested
Members and VESP holders: Free | Visitors: $5

Book Talk: Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age

Annalee Newitz in conversation with Sarah Parcak

In Four Lost Cities, acclaimed science journalist Annalee Newitz takes readers on an entertaining and mind-bending adventure into the deep history of urban life. Investigating across the centuries and around the world, Newitz explores the rise and fall of four ancient cities, each the center of a sophisticated civilization: the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Central Turkey, the Roman vacation town of Pompeii on Italy’s southern coast, the medieval megacity of Angkor in Cambodia, and the indigenous metropolis Cahokia, which stood beside the Mississippi River where East St. Louis is today.

Newitz travels to all four sites and investigates the cutting-edge research in archaeology, revealing the mix of environmental changes and political turmoil that doomed these ancient settlements. Tracing the early development of urban planning, Newitz also introduces us to the often anonymous workers―slaves, women, immigrants, and manual laborers―who built these cities and created monuments that lasted millennia.

Four Lost Cities is a journey into the forgotten past, but, foreseeing a future in which the majority of people on Earth will be living in cities, it may also reveal something of our own fate.

Annalee Newitz writes fiction and nonfiction about the intersection of science, technology and culture. Their first novel, Autonomous, won the Lambda Literary Award and was nominated for the Nebula and Locus Awards. Their book Scatter, Adapt, and Remember was nominated for the LA Times Book Award. They are currently a contributing opinion writer at the New York Times. Previously, they were the founding editor of io9, and served as the editor-in-chief of Gizmodo and as the tech culture editor at Ars Technica. They have also written for publications including Wired, Popular Science, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Slate, Washington Post, Smithsonian Magazine, and more. They have published short stories in Lightspeed, Shimmer, Apex, and Technology Review's Twelve Tomorrows. Annalee is the co-host of the Hugo Award-winning podcast, Our Opinions Are Correct. They were the recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at MIT, worked as a policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and have a Ph.D. in English and American Studies from UC Berkeley. They currently live in San Francisco.

Sarah Parcak is an archaeologist, Egyptologist, and remote sensing expert, who has used satellite imaging to identify potential archaeological sites in Egypt, Rome, and elsewhere in the former Roman Empire. She is a professor of Anthropology and director of the Laboratory for Global Observation at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In partnership with her husband, Greg Mumford, she directs survey and excavation projects in the Faiyum, Sinai, and Egypt's East Delta. Parcak was born in Bangor, Maine, and received her bachelor's degree in Egyptology and Archaeological Studies from Yale University in 2001, and her Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge.

Help support the author and independent bookstores. 

PURCHASE Four Lost Cities from our partner, Harvard Book Store.

Assistive Listening Devices image

Auto-generated captions are available for most virtual programs. To request live captioning or other accommodations, please contact Hannah Weisman at weisman@bostonathenaeum.org or 617-720-7617 at least four business days prior to the event.