From Prehistoric Villages to Cities : Settlement Aggregation and Community Transformation book cover
1st Edition

From Prehistoric Villages to Cities
Settlement Aggregation and Community Transformation

Edited By

Jennifer Birch

ISBN 9780367868253
Published December 10, 2019 by Routledge
240 Pages

USD $48.95

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Book Description

Archaeologists have focused a great deal of attention on explaining the evolution of village societies and the transition to a ‘Neolithic’ way of life. Considerable interest has also concentrated on urbanism and the rise of the earliest cities. Between these two landmarks in human cultural development lies a critical stage in social and political evolution. Throughout world, at various points in time, people living in small, dispersed village communities have come together into larger and more complex social formations. These community aggregates were, essentially, middle-range; situated between the earliest villages and emergent chiefdoms and states. This volume explores the social processes involved in the creation and maintenance of aggregated communities and how they brought about revolutionary transformations that affected virtually every aspect of a society and its culture.

While there have been a number of studies that address coalescence from a regional perspective, less is understood about how aggregated communities functioned internally. The key premise explored in this volume is that large-scale, long-term cultural transformations were ultimately enacted in the context of daily practices, interactions, and what might be otherwise considered the mundane aspects of everyday life. How did these processes play out "on the ground" in diverse and historically contingent settings? What are the strategies and mechanisms that people adopt in order to facilitate living in larger social formations? What changes in social relations occur when people come together? This volume employs a broadly cross-cultural approach to interrogating these questions, employing case studies which span four continents and more than 10,000 years of human history.

Table of Contents

1. Between Villages and Cities: Settlement Aggregation in Cross-Cultural Perspective Jennifer Birch  2. The Anatomy of a Prehistoric Community: Reconsidering Çatalhöyük Bleda S. Düring  3. Coming Together, Falling Apart: A Multi-Scalar Approach to Prehistoric Aggregation and Interaction on the Great Hungarian Plain Paul R. Duffy William A. Parkinson, Attila Gyucha and Richard W. Yerkes   4. Social Organization and Aggregated Settlement Structure in an Archaic Greek City on Crete (ca. 600 BC)Donald C. Haggis   5. Appropriating Community: Platforms and Power on the Formative Taraco Peninsula, Bolivia Robin A. Beck, Jr.  6. Social Integration and the Built Environment of Aggregated Communities in the North American Puebloan Southwest Alison E. Rautman  7. Competition and Cooperation: Late Classic Period Aggregation in the Southern Tucson Basin  Henry D. Wallace and Michael W. Lindeman  8. Organizational Complexity in Ancestral Wendat Communities Jennifer Birch and Ronald F. Williamson  9. Community Aggregation through Public Architecture: Cherokee Townhouses Christopher B. Rodning  10. The Work of Making Community Stephen A. Kowalewski

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Jennifer Birch is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Georgia, USA.


"This book is an important contribution to the literature on settlement aggregation in a cross-cultural context, for which Jennifer Birch and the other contributors should be congratulated." - Scott G. Ortman, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA, in the SAS Bulletin

"This volume is a useful compilation of eight case studies (five from the Americas, from Bolivia to the Great Lakes, and three from southeast Europe/Anatolia) of different forms of non-urban aggregation, analyzing causes and effects, related social transformation, political context of aggregation, and ritual and symbolic enablers of community cohesion." - Douglas Baird, University of Liverpool

"Jennifer Birch is to be congratulated for organizing a Society for American Archaeology session and editing a book that reinstates the comparative cross-cultural approach to answering the big questions of anthropology using archaeological case studies." - Gary Warrick, Brantford Campus, Wilfrid Laurier University