From the Euphrates Valley to the southern Peruvian Andes, early complex societies have risen and fallen, but in some cases they have also been reborn. Prior archaeological investigation of these societies has focused primarily on emergence and collapse. This is the first book-length work to examine the question of how and why early complex urban societies have reappeared after periods of decentralization and collapse.
Ranging widely across the Near East, the Aegean, East Asia, Mesoamerica, and the Andes, these cross-cultural studies expand our understanding of social evolution by examining how societies were transformed during the period of radical change now termed “collapse.” They seek to discover how societal complexity reemerged, how second-generation states formed, and how these re-emergent states resembled or differed from the complex societies that preceded them.
The contributors draw on material culture as well as textual and ethnohistoric data to consider such factors as preexistent institutions, structures, and ideologies that are influential in regeneration; economic and political resilience; the role of social mobility, marginal groups, and peripheries; and ethnic change. In addition to presenting a number of theoretical viewpoints, the contributors also propose reasons why regeneration sometimes does not occur after collapse. A concluding contribution by Norman Yoffee provides a critical exegesis of “collapse” and highlights important patterns found in the case histories related to peripheral regions and secondary elites, and to the ideology of statecraft.
After Collapse blazes new research trails in both archaeology and the study of social change, demonstrating that the archaeological record often offers more clues to the “dark ages” that precede regeneration than do text-based studies. It opens up a new window on the past by shifting the focus away from the rise and fall of ancient civilizations to their often more telling fall and rise.
Arlen F. Chase
Diane Z. Chase
Christina A. Conlee
Timothy S. Hare
Alan L. Kolata
Marilyn A. Masson
Gordon F. McEwan
Carlos Peraza Lope
Miriam T. Stark
Jill A. Weber
The Maya. The Romans. The great dynasties of ancient China. It is generally believed that these once mighty empires eventually crumbled and disappeared. A recent trend in archaeology, however, focusing on what happened during and after the decline of once powerful societies has found social resilience and transformation instead of collapse. In Beyond Collapse: Archaeological Perspectives on Resilience, Revitalization, and Transformation in Complex Societies, editor Ronald K. Faulseit gathers scholars with diverse theoretical perspectives to present innovative approaches to understanding the decline and reorganization of complex societies.
Essays in the book are arranged into five sections. The first section addresses previous research on the subject of collapse and reorganization as well as recent and historic theoretical trends. In the second section, contributors look at collapse and resilience through the concepts of collective action, eventful archaeology, and resilience theory. The third section introduces critical analyses of the effectiveness of resilience theory as a heuristic tool for modeling the phenomena of collapse and resilience. In the fourth section, contributors examine long-term adaptive strategies employed by prehistoric societies to cope with stresses. Essays in the fifth section make connections to contemporary research on post-decline societies in a variety of time periods and geographic locations.
Contributors consider collapse and reorganization not as unrelated phenomena but as integral components in the evolution of complex societies. Using archaeological data to interpret how ancient civilizations responded to various stresses—including environmental change, warfare, and the fragmentation of political institutions—contributors discuss not only what leads societies to collapse but also why some societies are resilient and others are not, as well as how societies reorganize after collapse. The implications of the fate of these societies for modern nations cannot be underestimated. Putting in context issues we face today, such as climate change, lack of social diversity, and the failure of modern states, Beyond Collapse is an essential volume for readers interested in human-environment interaction and in the collapse—and subsequent reorganization—of human societies.
The study of craft production is a complex and challenging one that illuminates key aspects of the material, organizational, and ideological interests, values, and capacities of a given culture.
Many crafts are treated as separate, but are actually practiced concurrently and in close proximity to each other, facilitating crucial interaction. There is a need for a balanced evaluation of the roles of producer and consumer in craft production, and the importance of properly contextualized workshop excavations and the definition of the entire sequence of operation in documenting craft production both as a social and material process.
Craft Production in Complex Societies redresses the skewed conception and approach to craft production that have been shaped by studies focused on separate, single medium crafts, finished products, and the consumer. It presents case studies and regional syntheses from diverse geographical areas, time periods, and sociopolitical complexities that break important new ground in the anthropological study of the creative role and social identity of the producer and multi-craft production. It is expected to serve as a key reference in craft studies for many years to come.
Through creative combinations of ethnohistoric evidence, iconography, and contextual analysis of faunal remains, this work offers new insight into the mechanisms involved in food provisioning for complex societies. Contributors combine zooarchaeological and historical data from global case studies to analyze patterns in centralization and bureaucratic control, asymmetrical access and inequalities, and production-distribution-consumption dynamics of urban food provisioning and animal management.
Taking a global perspective and including both prehistoric and historic case studies, the chapters in the volume reflect some of the current best practices in the zooarchaeology of complex societies. Embedding faunal evidence within a broader anthropological explanatory framework and integrating archaeological contexts, historic texts, iconography, and ethnohistorical sources, the book discerns myriad ways that animals are key contributors to, and cocreators of, complex societies in all periods and all places. Chapters cover the diverse sociopolitical and economic roles wild animals played in Bronze Age Turkey; the production and consumption of animal products in medieval Ireland; the importance of belief systems, politics, and cosmologies in Shang Dynasty animal provisioning in the Yellow River Valley; the significance of external trade routes in the kingdom of Aksum (modern Sudan); hunting and animal husbandry at El Zotz; animal economies from two Mississippian period sites; and more.
Food Provisioning in Complex Societies provides an optimistic roadmap and heuristic tools to explore the diverse, resilient, and contingent processes involved in food provisioning. The book represents a novel and productive way forward for understanding the unique, yet predictably structured, provisioning systems that emerged in the context of complex societies in all parts of the world. It will be of interest to zooarchaeologists and archaeologists alike.
Contributors: Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales, Fiona Beglane, Roderick Campbell, Kathryn Grossman, Patricia Martinez-Lira, Jacqueline S. Meier, Sarah E. Newman, Terry O'Connor, Tanya M. Peres, Gypsy C. Price, Elizabeth J. Reitz, Kim Shelton, Marcus Winter, Helina S. Woldekiros