The future of humanity is urban, and knowledge of urbanism’s deep past is critical for us all to navigate that future. The time has come for archaeologists to rethink this global phenomenon by asking what urbanism is and, more to the point, was. Can we truly understand ancient urbanism by only asking after the human element, or are the properties and qualities of landscapes, materials, and atmospheres equally causal?
The nine authors of New Materialisms Ancient Urbanisms seek less anthropocentric answers to questions about the historical relationships between urbanism and humanity in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. They analyze the movements and flows of materials, things, phenomena, and beings—human and otherwise—as these were assembled to produce the kinds of complex, dense, and stratified relationships that we today label urban. In so doing, the book emerges as a work of both theory and historical anthropology. It breaks new ground in the archaeology of urbanism, building on the latest ‘New Materialist’, ‘relational-ontological’, and ‘realist’ trends in social theory.
This book challenges a new generation of students to think outside the box, and provides scholars of urbanism, archaeology, and anthropology with a fresh perspective on the development of urban society.
"The writers have produced an outstanding overview of the flow of antiquities, moving from the source of the looting or excavation, through transit states, and culminating in museums, showrooms, and private collections. This book stands as an excellent summary of the work being done on this illicit trade, and will be an invaluable resource for those familiar with the subject, and for those new to it." - Prof. Derek Fincham, South Texas College of Law Houston, USA
"This fascinating book will become the go-to resource on the global market in illicit antiquities. The authors’ in-depth investigations into this devastating global crime problem highlight the importance of collecting and analysing evidence to counter the justifications that can exist in the often grey worlds that thrive around illicit antiquities. Highly accessible, the book engages with theory, research methods and international policy in a manner that provides a valuable counterpoint to much work on the area that is based on conjecture. In presenting their hugely significant Trafficking Culture research, the authors also promote an important future policy approach. The book will inspire future research into the global market in illicit antiquities and serve as an example of how it should be undertaken." - John Kerr, University of Roehampton, UK
"Inspired by Deleuzian and other realist philosophies, this provocative book synthesizes New Materialist theories and relational approaches to tackle a mainstay of traditional archaeological research, urbanism and city life in ancient societies. The authors demonstrate that cities defy reduction to essentialized types but must be understood as dense but fluid assemblages of peoples, infrastructures, substances, formless matter, phenomena and objects. The case studies, ranging from across the globe, reveal the fundamental importance of ontology and religion to urban historical process, one mediated by diverse assemblages of non-human entities. The edited volume presents a radically new approach to the analysis of urbanism that stands to revolutionize archaeological approaches to ancient landscapes." - Edward Swenson, University of Toronto, Canada