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In the realm of the pharaohs, some of mankind's oldest and largest cities are emerging.

An urban revolution that has long been overlooked: For unlike the impressive stone temples, most traces of settlement have disappeared today. But research is gaining ever deeper insights into the urban life of the ancient Egyptians. The first major metropolis, Hierakonpolis, the ancient capital of Upper Egypt, emerges around 3,500 years B.C., when several villages coalesce into the oldest known urban settlement in Egypt. A city built of clay, the Egyptians' most important building material. However, for archaeologists, the perishable nature of the building material is a challenge.

Thanks to modern methods, they can now form an astonishingly precise image of the structure of these cities and the everyday life of their inhabitants.