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      Definitions and Comparisons in Urban Archaeology

      Journal of Urban Archaeology

      Brepols Publishers

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          Abstract

          I discuss two key issues for the analysis of early urban settlements: definitions, and comparative analysis. There is no ‘best’ definition of terms like city or urban. These are not empirical descriptions of the archaeological record; they are theoretical terms whose definition should match the research goals and questions of a study. Most archaeological definitions of city and urban use combinations of six dimensions of variability: size, functions, urban life/society, form, meaning, and growth. I then review seven reasons for archaeologists to pursue comparative analysis of past cities. Comparative analysis is necessary if we are to move beyond descriptions of individual cities to build an explanatory science of urbanism in the past.

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          Buzz: face-to-face contact and the urban economy

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            Pre-Columbian urbanism, anthropogenic landscapes, and the future of the Amazon.

            The archaeology of pre-Columbian polities in the Amazon River basin forces a reconsideration of early urbanism and long-term change in tropical forest landscapes. We describe settlement and land-use patterns of complex societies on the eve of European contact (after 1492) in the Upper Xingu region of the Brazilian Amazon. These societies were organized in articulated clusters, representing small independent polities, within a regional peer polity. These patterns constitute a "galactic" form of prehistoric urbanism, sharing features with small-scale urban polities in other areas. Understanding long-term change in coupled human-environment systems relating to these societies has implications for conservation and sustainable development, notably to control ecological degradation and maintain regional biodiversity.
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              Princes and Merchants: European City Growth before the Industrial Revolution

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                jua
                jua
                Journal of Urban Archaeology
                Brepols Publishers (Turnhout, Belgium )
                2736-2426
                2736-2434
                January 2020
                : 1
                : 15-30
                Article
                10.1484/J.JUA.5.120907

                Open-access

                Product
                Self URI (journal page): https://www.urbanarchaeology.net/

                Urban studies, Archaeology, History

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