Street, invented; mind, blown; cowpaths, traced
So I’m sprawled across my bed last night, reading Spiro Kostof’s The City Shaped, alternately being irritated by its unwieldy size and reveling in the huge, detailed illustrations that size affords, when I trip over this passage:
Khirokitia in Cyprus had a street, the first I know of, and the unwalled settlement stretched along its length in a pattern of growth that was potentially open-ended.
Had a street. The implication here won’t have escaped you, any more than it did me: As if any such thing was a novelty. As if all the human settlements that came before lacked linear path elements. As if the very idea had had to be invented. By someone.
How grateful am I that at the age of forty-one, I can still have my mind well and truly blown, by a sentence thirty pages into a book I could have picked up at any point in the last nineteen years? And because that is what one does these days when one’s mind is blown, I tweeted it.
Obligatory GMTA: a few hours after I hit post, David Smith mailed to remind me of this Matt Webb gem from 2006. (Rereading Matt’s comments, it’s just remotely conceivable that if my copy of The City Shaped sported heat maps of frequently highlighted passages, I wouldn’t have found the coincidence so startling.)
But back on topic: If something so fundamental to our conception of the world as a street had to be proposed by some specific human or group of humans, what measures that our posterity will regard as equally staggeringly obvious and self-evident remain to be invented?