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The Comparative Archaeology of Complex Societies


Michael E. Smith, Peter Peregrine, Gary M. Feinman, Monica L. Smith, Robert D. Drennan, Christian E. Peterson, Michael J. Kolb, Barbara L. Stark, John K. Chance, Timothy Earle, Roland Fletcher
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  • Date Published: November 2011
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521142120

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About the Authors
  • Part of a resurgence in the comparative study of ancient societies, this book presents a variety of methods and approaches to comparative analysis through the examination of wide-ranging case studies. Each chapter is a comparative study, and the diverse topics and regions covered in the book contribute to the growing understanding of variation and change in ancient complex societies. The authors explore themes ranging from urbanization and settlement patterns, to the political strategies of kings and chiefs, to the economic choices of individuals and households. The case studies cover an array of geographical settings, from the Andes to Southeast Asia. The authors are leading archaeologists whose research on early empires, states, and chiefdoms is at the cutting edge of scientific archaeology.

    • Authors are leading archaeologists
    • Presents numerous advances in the study of ancient empires, states, and chiefdoms
    • Shows a variety of methods and approaches to the comparative analysis of ancient societies
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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2011
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521142120
    • length: 360 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.48kg
    • contains: 45 b/w illus. 2 maps 24 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Comparative archaeology: a commitment to understanding variation all contributors
    2. Approaches to comparative analysis in archaeology Michael E. Smith and Peter Peregrine
    3. Comparative frames for the diachronic analysis of complex societies: next steps Gary M. Feinman
    4. What it takes to get complex: food, goods, and work as shared cultural ideals form the beginning of sedentism Monica L. Smith
    5. Challenges for comparative study of early complex societies Robert D. Drennan and Christian E. Peterson
    6. Patterned variation in regional trajectories of community growth Christian E. Peterson and Robert D. Drennan
    7. The genesis of monuments in island societies Michael J. Kolb
    8. Power and legitimation: political strategies, typology and cultural evolution Peter Peregrine
    9. The strategies of provincials in empires Barbara L. Stark and John K. Chase
    10. Households, economies, and power in the Aztec and Inka imperial provinces Timothy Earle and Michael E. Smith
    11. Low-density, agrarian-based urbanism: scale, power, and ecology Roland Fletcher
    12. Archaeology, early complex societies, and comparative social science history Michael E. Smith.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Archaeology of Inequality
    • Early Civilizations
    • Prehistory of the Midwest
    • Rise of Civilizations
    • Social Archaeology
  • Editor

    Michael E. Smith, Arizona State University
    Michael E. Smith is Professor of Anthropology in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University. He has published widely in scholarly journals on Aztec society, Mesoamerican archaeology, ancient urbanism, and the comparative analysis of early state societies. He is the author and editor of eight books, including Aztec City-State Capitals, The Aztecs, and The Postclassic Mesoamerican World (co-edited with Frances F. Berdan).


    Michael E. Smith, Peter Peregrine, Gary M. Feinman, Monica L. Smith, Robert D. Drennan, Christian E. Peterson, Michael J. Kolb, Barbara L. Stark, John K. Chance, Timothy Earle, Roland Fletcher

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