Becoming Villagers

Comparing Early Village Societies

Matthew S. Bandy (Editor), Jake R. Fox (Editor)
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The shift from mobile hunting and gathering to more sedentary, usually agricultural, lifeways was one of the most significant milestones in the prehistory of humanity. This transformation was spurred by an alignment of social and ecological forces, pressures, and adaptations, and it took place in broadly comparable ways in many prehistoric settings.

Based on a Society for American Archaeology symposium and subsequent Amerind Advanced Seminar in 2006, Becoming Villagers examines this transformation at various places and times across the globe by focusing not on the origins of agriculture and village life but rather on their consequences. The goal of the volume is to identify regularities in the ways that societies developed in the centuries and millennia following a transition to village life. Using cases that range from China to Bolivia and from the Near East to the American Southwest, leading archaeologists situate their specific areas of specialization in a broad comparative context.

They consider the forces acting to divide and fragment early villages and the social technologies and practices by which those obstacles were, in some cases, overcome. Finally, the volume examines the long-term historical trajectories of these early village societies.

This transformative collection makes a powerful case for a renewed and invigorated archaeological focus on large-scale comparative studies. It will be an essential read for anyone interested not only in early village societies but also in the ways in which archaeology relates to anthropology, other social sciences, and history.

  1. “Becoming Villagers: The Evolution of Early Village Societies,” Matthew S. Bandy and Jake R. Fox
  2. “Population Growth, Village Fissioning, and Alternative Early Village Trajectories,” Matthew S. Bandy
  3. “A Scale Model of Seven Hundred Years of Farming Settlements in Southwestern Colorado,” Timothy A. Kohler and Mark D. Varien
  4. “‘Great Expectations,’ or the Inevitable Collapse of the Early Neolithic in the Near East,” Nigel Goring-Morris and Anna Belfer-Cohen
  5. “‘Ritualization’ in Early Village Society: The Case of the Lake Titicaca Basin Formative,” Amanda B. Cohen
  6. “The Sacred and the Secular Revisited: The Essential Tensions of Early Village Society in the Southeastern United States,” Thomas Pluckhahn
  7. “Substantial Structures, Few People, and the Question of Early Villages in the Mimbres Region of the North American Southwest,” Patricia A. Gilman
  8. “Sea Changes in Stable Communities: What Do Small Changes in Practices at Catalhoyuk and Chiripa Imply about Community Making?” Christine A. Hastorf
  9. “The Emergence of Early Villages in the American Southwest: Cultural Issues and Historical Perspectives,” Richard H. Wilshusen and James M. Potter
  10. “A Persistent Early Village Settlement System on the Bolivian Southern Altiplano,” Jake R. Fox
  11. “First Towns in the Americas: Searching for Agriculture, Population Growth, and Other Enabling Conditions,” John E. Clark, Jon L. Gibson, and James Zeidler
  12. “The Evolution of Early Yangshao Period Village Organization in the Middle Reaches of Northern China's Yellow River Valley,” Christian E. Peterson and Gideon Shelach
"This volume is a significant contribution to the ongoing discussion of how archaeology relates to anthropology, as well as to the other social sciences, hard sciences, and humanistic disciplines such as history. The chapters are all theoretically and methodologically sound."—William A. Parkinson, author of The Social Organization of Early Copper Age Tribes on the Great Hungarian Plain
Becoming Villagers
368 Pages 6 x 9 x 1.1
Published: December 2010Hardcover ISBN: 9780816529018
Published: December 2010Ebook ISBN: 9780816545544

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