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What was the first city to reach 1 million people?

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The first city to reach a population of 1 million people was Rome, Italy in 133 B.C. Angkor, Cambodia in the 12th Century during the Khmer Empire had a million people. London, England reached the mark in 1810 and New York City, USA made it in 1875. Today, there are over 300 cities in the world that boast a population in excess of 1 million.

There's no evidence for any city reaching a million before the 19th century. Ancient Rome covered less than 14 sq km, making a peak population much over half a million highly improbable. The Khmer Empire is unlikely to have contained more than 3 million people at a time when few countries could sustain more than a tenth of their population in towns, making anything over a very few hundred thousand still less plausible.

That leaves London, Beijing and Tokyo, of which the first is the earliest known to have had a million, indeed around 1810 (the date varies with the area considered to be included in the then metropolis). Paris followed around 1835. Including Brooklyn, New York reached a million shortly before 1860.

Actually ancient Rome, as you well know was doing census, and at some point they had a recorded population of 960.000.

As for Angkor in Cambodia, in the early 12th century,

Suryavarman II was a benevolent Buddhist ruler and his subject wanted to be close to him, so they congregate to Angkor. Anthropologist for National Geographic did a study of the area around the Temple of Angkor Wat, and concluded that for the 37 years it took to build the temple, the workforce it took and the people to grow enough food to sustainened this workforce, was over a million people. They refer to that in 3 differents documentaries that were broadcast on Nat Geo over the year.

Rome didn't record 960,000 people in a census, not for the city anyway. The million is from an imperial boast about the grain dole, and it's incompatible with the plentiful physical evidence for the city. How many people might have supported the building of Angkor isn't the same as the number living in it: far more were needed in the countryside to grow the food for town dwellers or builders (on top of what farmers needed for themselves) then the number living in cities, which is what ultimately limited city populations.

First "Angkor" was a city and "Angkor Wat" was a temple. People were not there to support the temple or live in it. In fact, the temple became a mausoleum when the King died. Second Angkor was the capital city of the Khmer Empire, and contain over a thousand temples constructed over the 700-800 years that the Khmer ruled that region.

Now here's something that I didn't write:
"In 2007, an international team of researchers using satellite photographs and other modern techniques concluded that Angkor had been the largest preindustrial city in the world, with an elaborate infrastructure system connecting an urban sprawl of at least 1,000 square kilometres (390 sq mi) to the well-known temples at its core.[4] The closest rival to Angkor, the Mayan city of Tikal in Guatemala, was between 100 and 150 square kilometres (39 and 58 sq mi) in total size.[5] Although the size of its population remains a topic of research and debate, newly identified agricultural systems in the Angkor area may have supported up to one million people.[6]"

[4] Evans et al., A comprehensive archaeological map of the world's largest preindustrial settlement complex at Angkor, Cambodia, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, August 23, 2007.

[5] "Map reveals ancient urban sprawl," BBC News, 14 August 2007.

[6] Metropolis: Angkor, the world's first mega-city, The Independent, August 15, 2007

The anthropologists of Nat Geo, concluded from their research about where people lived and worked during the first part of the 12th century, when Angkor Wat was built, that the City of Angkor was at over a million people.

But you said - or cited - it yourself: "agricultural systems in the Angkor area may have supported up to one million people". That is not a city population, it's a regional carrying capacity. Agricultural systems in the Roman Empire supported upwards of 50 million people. That doesn't make the population of the city of Rome 50 million, as I'm sure you'd agree.

Depending on how "the Angkor area" is defined, its agriculture may well have supported a million people (though it would have to be a pretty broad area - Cambodia and a sizeable chunk of eastern Thailand, for instance). But most of those million were engaged in growing the crops to sustain their own families and nearby urban populations, not directly in city life.

I do actually agree that non-European ancient and medieval populations could sustain elaborate urban infrastructures and large town populations. But an Angkor (like a European Rome) of a million wasn't among them.

If you want to learn something, instead of anchoring yourself in your belief and try to split hair, google it and go read. I've done my job.

I'm not splitting hairs, just trying - as I trust you are too - to get at the truth. In fact I'm just reading the Evans paper you helpfully offered. "A vast, low-density settlement landscape integrated by an elaborate water management network covering >1,000 km2" isn't a city, it's just what it says: note "low-density". Hair-splitting? Looking at the evidence, I'd have thought. Angkor was a formidable achievement. But it isn't an answer to this question.
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