ABSTRACT

The phenomenon of the city exists throughout the world. From ancient times cities existed to the same degree as farming communities; compared to the latter, however, which are greatly influenced by their environment, the former share certain common features, whether it be in terms of physical forms or of society and culture. The urban characteristics possessed by cities have a commonality over and above regional differences. Is it perhaps because of this that we are attracted to the city itself and the theme of the city and attempt to use it as a comparative framework? Y. Sanada, a scholar of Central Asian history, sees the decisive differences between the city and the village as centring not only on wealth but also on non-material movables like information, learning and the arts.2 It is true of course that the characteristics of the city which have been pointed out since ancient times, like the political system, commerce, industry and culture, can all, like movable property, be transferred and transplanted and this makes it possible to consider that cities share common features which give them a universality. Y. Itagaki, who spent three years in the research project "Urbanism in Islam," emphasizes the universality of "urbanity" this goes in hand with his advocacy of the concept

of "urbanism" as a tool of discovery from a comparative standpoint.3 It is difficult to deny the attraction of the universality of the city however much we stress the points of commonality between city and village.