Constraints drive progress

“The fastest changes came not on the broadest plains with the richest soils but in cramped spaces, where it was hard for people to run away and find new homes if they lost struggles for resources within villages or wars between them. On one of Shandong’s small plains, for instance, archaeologists found a new settlement pattern taking shape between 2500 and 2000 BCE. A single large town grew up, with perhaps five thousand residents, surrounded by smaller satellite towns, which had their own smaller satellite villages. Surveys around Susa in southwest Iran found a similar pattern there some fifteen hundred years earlier; this, perhaps, is the way things always go when one community wins political control.”

from ‘Why the West Rules–for Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future‘ by Ian Morris

 

(See also: How Constraints Drive Growth)