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The Social Construction of Ancient Cities [NOOK Book]

Overview

What made ancient cities successful? What are the similarities between modern cities and ancient ones? The Social Construction of Ancient Cities offers a fresh perspective on ancient cities and the social networks and relations that built and sustained them, marking a dramatic change in the way archaeologists approach them. Examining ancient cities from a “bottom up” perspective, the authors in this volume explore the ways in which cities were actually created by ordinary inhabitants. They track the development ...
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The Social Construction of Ancient Cities

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Overview

What made ancient cities successful? What are the similarities between modern cities and ancient ones? The Social Construction of Ancient Cities offers a fresh perspective on ancient cities and the social networks and relations that built and sustained them, marking a dramatic change in the way archaeologists approach them. Examining ancient cities from a “bottom up” perspective, the authors in this volume explore the ways in which cities were actually created by ordinary inhabitants. They track the development of urban space from the point of view of individuals and households, providing new insights into cities' roles as social centers as well as focal points of political and economic activities.

Analyzing various urban communities from residences and neighborhoods to marketplaces and ceremonial plazas, the authors examine urban centers in Africa, Mesoamerica, South America, Mesopotamia, the Indian subcontinent, and China. Collectively they demonstrate how complex networks of social relations and structures gave rise to the formation of ancient cities, contributed to their cohesion, and sustained their growth, much as they do in modern urban centers.

The authors' analyses draw from ancient texts as well as archaeological surveys and excavations of urban architecture and other material remains, including portable objects for daily use and comestibles. They show clearly how early urban dwellers consciously developed dense interdependent social networks to satisfy their needs for food, housing, and employment, forged their own urban identities, and generally managed to thrive in the crowded, bustling, and competitive environment that characterized ancient cities. Not least of all, they suggest how urban leaders and urban dwellers negotiated a consensus that enabled them to achieve both mundane and extraordinary goals, in the process establishing their unique ritual, legal, and social status.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781588343444
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press
  • Publication date: 4/9/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • File size: 6 MB

Meet the Author

Monica L. Smith is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles.
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Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
Contributors
1 Introduction: The Social Construction of Ancient Cities 1
2 Teotihuacan: Cosmic Glories and Mundane Needs 37
3 The Spatial Patterns of Everyday Life in Old Babylonian Neighborhoods 56
4 Life behind Walls: Patterns in the Urban Landscape on the Prehistoric North Coast of Peru 81
5 Early Urban Configurations on the Middle Niger: Clustered Cities and Landscapes of Power 103
6 Untangling the Ties that Bind: The City, the Countryside, and the Nature of Maya Urbanism at Xunantunich, Belize 121
7 Food Provisioning in Urban Societies: A View from Northern Mesopotamia 156
8 Cities as a Place of Ethnogenesis: Urban Growth and Centralization in the Chicama Valley, Peru 184
9 The Moral Community: Maya Settlement Transformation at Piedras Negras, Guatemala 212
10 Urban Social Transformations and the Problem of the "First City": New Research from Mesopotamia 254
11 Early Walled Cities of the Indian Subcontinent as "Small Worlds" 269
12 Compromises and Conflicts: Production and Commerce in the Royal Cities of Eastern Zhou, China 290
Index 311
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