Using case studies from around the globe—including Mesoamerica, North and South America, Africa, China, and the Greco-Roman world—and across multiple time periods, the authors in this volume make the case that abundance provides an essential explanatory perspective on ancient peoples’ choices and activities. Economists frequently focus on scarcity as a driving principle in the development of social and economic hierarchies, yet focusing on plenitude enables the understanding of a range of cohesive behaviors that were equally important for the development of social complexity.
Our earliest human ancestors were highly mobile hunter-gatherers who sought out places that provided ample food, water, and raw materials. Over time, humans accumulated and displayed an increasing quantity and variety of goods. In households, shrines, tombs, caches, and dumps, archaeologists have discovered large masses of materials that were deliberately gathered, curated, distributed, and discarded by ancient peoples. The volume’s authors draw upon new economic theories to consider the social, ideological, and political implications of human engagement with abundant quantities of resources and physical objects and consider how individual and household engagements with material culture were conditioned by the quest for abundance.
Abundance shows that the human propensity for mass consumption is not just the result of modern production capacities but fulfills a longstanding focus on plenitude as both the assurance of well-being and a buffer against uncertainty. This book will be of great interest to scholars and students in economics, anthropology, and cultural studies.
Contributors: Traci Ardren, Amy Bogaard, Elizabeth Klarich, Abigail Levine, Christopher R. Moore, Tito E. Naranjo, Stacey Pierson, James M. Potter, François G. Richard, Christopher W. Schmidt, Carol Schultze, Payson Sheets, Monica L. Smith, Katheryn C. Twiss, Mark D. Varien, Justin St. P. Walsh, María Nieves Zedeño
Individual agents are frequently evident in early writing and notational systems, yet these systems have rarely been subjected to the concept of agency as it is traceable in archeology. Agency in Ancient Writing addresses this oversight, allowing archeologists to identify and discuss real, observable actors and actions in the archaeological record.
Embracing myriad ways in which agency can be interpreted, ancient writing systems from Mesoamerica, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Crete, China, and Greece are examined from a textual perspective as both archaeological objects and nascent historical documents. This allows for distinction among intentions, consequences, meanings, and motivations, increasing understanding and aiding interpretation of the subjectivity of social actors. Chapters focusing on acts of writing and public recitation overlap with those addressing the materiality of texts, interweaving archaeology, epigraphy, and the study of visual symbol systems.
Agency in Ancient Writing leads to a more thorough and meaningful discussion of agency as an archaeological concept and will be of interest to anyone interested in ancient texts, including archaeologists, historians, linguists, epigraphers, and art historians, as well as scholars studying agency and structuration theory.
Several different cultures-Iroquois, Coosa, Anasazi, Hohokam, San Agustín, Wankarani, Formative Gulf Coast Mexico, and Formative, Classic, Colonial, and contemporary Maya-are analyzed through the lens of household archaeology in concrete, data-driven case studies. The text is divided into three sections: Section I examines the spatial and social organization and context of household production; Section II looks at the role and results of households as primary producers; and Section III investigates the role of, and interplay among, households in their greater political and socioeconomic communities.
In the past few decades, household archaeology has made substantial contributions to our understanding and explanation of the past through the documentation of the household as a social unit-whether small or large, rural or urban, commoner or elite. These case studies from a broad swath of the Americas make Ancient Households of the Americas extremely valuable for continuing the comparative interdisciplinary study of households.
The authors provide a global range of case studies from both New and Old World archaeology—a royal Aztec dog burial, the monumental horse tombs of Central Asia, and the ceremonial macaw cages of ancient Mexico among them. They explore the complex relationships between people and animals in social, economic, political, and ritual contexts, incorporating animal remains from archaeological sites with artifacts, texts, and iconography to develop their interpretations.
Animals and Inequality in the Ancient World presents new data and interpretations that reveal the role of animals, their products, and their symbolism in structuring social inequalities in the ancient world. The volume will be of interest to archaeologists, especially zooarchaeologists, and classical scholars of pre-modern civilizations and societies.
Drawing from historical documents and archaeological records from Mesoamerica, the U.S. Southwest, East Africa, and the Andes, this volume reveals the complexity of ancient marketplace development and economic behavior both in hierarchical and non-hierarchical societies. Highlighting four principal themes-the defining characteristics of market exchange; the recognition of market exchange archaeologically; the relationship among market, political, and other social institutions; and the conditions in which market systems develop and change-the book contains a strong methodological and theoretical focus on market exchange.
Diverse contributions from noted scholars show the history of market exchange and other activities to be more dynamic than scholars previously appreciated. Archaeological Approaches to Market Exchange in Ancient Societies will be of interest to archaeologists, anthropologists, material-culture theorists, economists, and historians.
Focusing on long-term change, this book considers ethnographic literature, archaeological evidence, and environmental data spanning thousands of years of human presence to understand human perception and construction of landscape. The contributors offer cohesive and synthetic studies emphasizing hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers.
Using landscape as both reality and metaphor, Archaeological Landscapes on the High Plains explores the different and changing ways that people interacted with place in this transitional zone between the Rocky Mountains and the eastern prairies.
The contemporary archaeologists working in this small area have chosen diverse approaches to understand the past and its relationship to the present. Through these ten case studies, this variety is highlighted but leads to a common theme - that the High Plains contains important locales to which people, over generations or millennia, return. Providing both data and theory on a region that has not previously received much attention from archaeologists, especially compared with other regions in North America, this volume is a welcome addition to the literature. Contributors:
o Paul Burnett
o Oskar Burger
o Minette C. Church
o Philip Duke
o Kevin Gilmore
o Eileen Johnson
o Mark D. Mitchell
o Michael R. Peterson
o Lawrence Todd
No single symposium or volume could do justice to the amount of information now available on Ecuadorian prehistory. This volume and the symposium on which it was based are devoted, therefore, to the archaeology of Formative Ecuador in order to bring new information on one of the most important periods of the region’s past to the attention of New World scholars.
While the volume includes two chapters on ideology and iconography, the focus is distinctly archaeological, with an emphasis on the fundamentals of archaeological science, including settlement patterns, subsistence, health, and ceramic variability.
Plantation sites, especially those in the southeastern United States, have long dominated the archaeological study of slavery. These antebellum estates, however, are not representative of the range of geographic locations and time periods in which slavery has occurred. As archaeologists have begun to investigate slavery in more diverse settings, the need for a broader interpretive framework is now clear.
The Archaeology of Slavery: A Comparative Approach to Captivity and Coercion, edited by Lydia Wilson Marshall, develops an interregional and cross-temporal framework for the interpretation of slavery. Contributors consider how to define slavery, identify it in the archaeological record, and study it as a diachronic process from enslavement to emancipation and beyond.
Essays cover the potential material representations of slavery, slave owners’ strategies of coercion and enslaved people’s methods of resisting this coercion, and the legacies of slavery as confronted by formerly enslaved people and their descendants. Among the peoples, sites, and periods examined are a late nineteenth-century Chinese laborer population in Carlin, Nevada; a castle slave habitation at San Domingo and a more elite trading center at nearby Juffure in the Gambia; two eighteenth-century plantations in Dominica; Benin’s Hueda Kingdom in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; plantations in Zanzibar; and three fugitive slave sites on Mauritius—an underground lava tunnel, a mountain, and a karst cave.
This essay collection seeks to analyze slavery as a process organized by larger economic and social forces with effects that can be both durable and wide-ranging. It presents a comparative approach that significantly enriches our understanding of slavery.
What is the social value of archaeological research to present-day society? Michael Schiffer answers this question with forty-two case studies from a global perspective to demonstrate archaeology’s diverse scientific and humanistic contributions. Drawing on nearly five decades of research, he delivers fascinating yet nontechnical discussions that provide a deeper understanding of what archaeologists do and why they do it.
From reconstructing human evolution and behavior in prehistoric times to providing evidence that complements recorded history or debunks common legends, archaeologists help us understand our human past. They have also played crucial roles in developing techniques essential for the investigation of climate change along with tools for environmental reconstruction. Working for cities, tribes, and federal agencies, archaeologists manage cultural resources and testify in court. In forensic contexts, archaeological expertise enables the gathering of critical evidence. With engaging and lively prose, Archaeology’s Footprints brings to life a full panorama of contributions that have had an impact on modern society.
By examining the stunning stone buildings and dynamic spaces of the royal estate of Chinchero, Nair brings to light the rich complexity of Inca architecture. This investigation ranges from the paradigms of Inca scholarship and a summary of Inca cultural practices to the key events of Topa Inca’s reign and the many individual elements of Chinchero’s extraordinary built environment.
What emerges are the subtle, often sophisticated ways in which the Inca manipulated space and architecture in order to impose their authority, identity, and agenda. The remains of grand buildings, as well as a series of deft architectural gestures in the landscape, reveal the unique places that were created within the royal estate and how one space deeply informed the other. These dynamic settings created private places for an aging ruler to spend time with a preferred wife and son, while also providing impressive spaces for imperial theatrics that reiterated the power of Topa Inca, the choice of his preferred heir, and the ruler’s close relationship with sacred forces.
This careful study of architectural details also exposes several false paradigms that have profoundly misguided how we understand Inca architecture, including the belief that it ended with the arrival of Spaniards in the Andes. Instead, Nair reveals how, amidst the entanglement and violence of the European encounter, an indigenous town emerged that was rooted in Inca ways of understanding space, place, and architecture and that paid homage to a landscape that defined home for Topa Inca.
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