LIVE from NYPL: Four Lost Cities: Annalee Newitz with Amal El-Mohtar

Date and Time
February 17, 2021
Event Details
Accessibility Notes:
- A live transcript will be provided.
- ASL interpretation is available upon request. Please submit your request at least two weeks in advance by emailing A pre-filled Gmail template is available by clicking here.
- Any media will be accompanied by alt text to reference before the program or by audio description.

The acclaimed science journalist and founder of io9 journeys into the spectacular and forgotten past of four cities to figure out why they were abandoned

In their new book, Annalee Newitz explores the rise and fall of four ancient cities, each, at different times, the center of a sophisticated civilization: the Neolithic site Çatalhöyük in Central Turkey, the Roman vatican town of Pompeii on Italy's southern coast, the medieval megacity of Angkor in Cambodia, and the indigenous metropolis Cahokia that stood beside the Mississippi River. Newitz traveled to each site and investigated the cutting-edge archaeological research that reveals the mix of environmental changes and political turmoil that doomed each settlement. Along the way, they trace the early development of urban planning and sketch the lives of the anonymous workers who put those plans into action. Though the places and the people are largely forgotten, they have the capacity to inform us about the potential fates of our present-day urban landscape. 

LIVE from NYPL is made possible by the support of Library patrons and friends, as well as by the continuing generosity of Celeste Bartos, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos, and the Margaret and Herman Sokol Public Education Endowment Fund.

Annalee Newitz, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, is a founder of io9 and former editor-in-chief of Gizmodo. They are the author of Scatter, Adapt, and Remember and the novels Autonomous and The Future of Another Timeline. They live in San Francisco. 

Amal El-Mohtar is an award-winning writer of fiction, poetry, and criticism. She is the science fiction and fantasy columnist for The New York Times Book Review and the co-author, with Max Gladstone, of This Is How You Lose the Time War, which has received several honors including the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards. She teaches creative writing at the University of Ottawa. You can find her on Twitter at @tithenai, read more of her work at, and subscribe to her newsletter at

If you have a NYPL library card—or live in New York state and want to apply for one now—you can borrow Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age  for free with our e-reader app SimplyE. The title is available in accessible formats for community members who do not use standard print. Find out more at: You can also request this book, and more, for pickup at one of our Grab & Go locations

Readers everywhere who wish to purchase copies of Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age can do so at The New York Public Library Shop. Proceeds benefit the New York Public Library. 

Annalee Newitz suggests these titles for further reading:

Nature's Metropolis, by William Cronon
The City Shaped, by Spiro Kostof
1491, by Charles Mann
Questioning Collapse, by Patricia McAnany and Norman Yoffee
Archaeology from Space ,by Sarah Parcak
Dark Emu, by Bruce Pascoe
Black Sun, by Rebecca Roanhorse
The Global City, by Saskia Sassen
Cities: The First 6,000 Years, by Monica Smith
Toxic Communities ,by Dorceta Taylor
American Chinatown, by Bonnie Tsui

NYPL suggests these titles for further reading:
The City We Became, by N.K. Jemisin
The Future of Another Timeline, by Annalee Newitz
Metropolis, by Ben Wilson
Land, by Simon Winchester

This program will be streamed live on Zoom and simulcast to YouTube. You must register with your email address in order to receive the link to participate. Please check your email shortly before the discussion to receive the link. Captions for this event will be provided. If you miss registration, join us on YouTube to watch at 8 PM ET on Wednesday, February 17th. 

Please send all press inquiries (photo, video, interviews, audio-recording, etc.) at least 24 hours before the day of the program to Sara Beth Joren at

For all other questions and inquiries, please contact


Sign up for NYPL Connect to get updates from NYPL and information about our digital resources and services available during our temporary closure. 



The New York Public Library hosts events online, in person, and/or outdoors. The following information applies to online events.

Public Notice & Disclaimer

During online programs, you may be using a third-party platform such as Google Hangouts Meet, Zoom, Screenleap, or Vimeo for the purpose of communication, collaboration, projects, etc. These services may collect some personally identifying information about you, such as name, username, email address, and/or the password you use to access them. These services will treat the information they collect about you pursuant to their own privacy policies, which can be found here: Google Privacy Policy, Zoom Privacy Policy, Screenleap Privacy Policy, and Vimeo Privacy Policy.

Online programs use a third-party website link. By clicking on the third-party website link, you will leave NYPL's website and enter a website not operated by NYPL. We encourage you to review the privacy policies of every third-party website or service that you visit or use, including those third parties with whom you interact with through our Library services. For more information about these third-party links, please see the section of NYPL's Privacy Policy describing "Third-Party Library Services Providers."

For more information about internet safety for minors, please see the Library’s Internet Safety for Children and Teens notice.