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In this book, Michael Smith offers a comparative and interdisciplinary examination of ancient settlements and cities. Early cities varied considerably in their political and economic organization and dynamics. Smith here introduces a coherent approach to urbanism that is transdisciplinary in scope, scientific in epistemology, and anchored in the urban literature of the social sciences. His new insight is 'energized crowding,' a concept that captures the consequences of social interactions within the built environment resulting from increases in population size and density within settlements. Smith explores the implications of features such as empires, states, markets, households, and neighborhoods for urban life and society through case studies from around the world. Direct influences on urban life – as mediated by energized crowding-are organized into institutional (top-down forces) and generative (bottom-up processes). Smith's volume analyzes their similarities and differences with contemporary cities, and highlights the relevance of ancient cities for understanding urbanism and its challenges today.
Several small towns in Hieradoumia received polis-status between the Augustan and Flavian periods. None of these communities seem to have had an especially dense or elaborate urban fabric, and all had a relatively limited roster of civic magistrates. There is little sign that the local civic elite was strongly distinct either in wealth or cultural horizons from the ordinary rural population, and Roman citizenship was not widespread before the constitutio Antoniniana; the largest private landholdings in the region seem to have been in the hands of wealthy non-resident landowners from Sardis, Philadelphia, or further afield. The polis remained a marginal phenomenon in Roman Hieradoumia, where the chief focus of communal life was instead the self-governing village. Villages overlapped strongly with cult-associations, and in a few cases, we have good evidence for segmentary organization of villages by kin-groups. The chapter concludes with a defence of the conception of Roman Hieradoumia as a fundamentally kin-ordered society.
This chapter is concerned with divine mediation and resolution of interpersonal disputes in Roman Hieradoumia. Secular disputes could be submitted to divine jurisdiction by the performance of one or other of two rituals, the setting up of a sceptre and/or the deposition of a pittakion in the sanctuary. Several different categories of low-level dispute are discussed: disagreements over the ownership of livestock; theft of other people’s money or belongings; the non-repayment of loans of money or goods; and disputes between family members, which could be extraordinarily acrimonious. Familial disputes fall into various predictable patterns, reflecting the underlying fault lines within the Hieradoumian kinship system which arise from the ambiguous status of older women within the Hieradoumian village household.
Our conception of the culture and values of the ancient Greco-Roman world is largely based on texts and material evidence left behind by a small and atypical group of city-dwellers. The people of the deep Mediterranean countryside seldom appear in the historical record from antiquity, and almost never as historical actors. This book is the first extended historical ethnography of an ancient village society, based on an extraordinarily rich body of funerary and propitiatory inscriptions from a remote upland region of Roman Asia Minor. Rural kinship structures and household forms are analysed in detail, as are the region's demography, religious life, gender relations, class structure, normative standards and values. Roman north-east Lydia is perhaps the only non-urban society in the Greco-Roman world whose culture can be described at so fine-grained a level of detail: a world of tight-knit families, egalitarian values, hard agricultural labour, village solidarity, honour, piety and love.
The chapter surveys the economy of Asia Minor from the late archaic period to the end of the Hellenistic era. Asia Minor forms the largest land mass in the northern Mediterranean and is characterized by a diverse geography with different levels of integration into the Greek world and its economy. Throughout time, urbanization significantly intensified; nevertheless, many regions preserved a rural character. Agriculture was most important, in both the land of the poleis and land controlled by the Achaemenid and Hellenistic kings. Production was directed to local needs, but some agrarian products also served as exports; non-agrarian production was less significant. Asia Minor was rich in natural resources, and fishing was important in a few coastal cities. The birthplace of coinage in the late seventh century, Asia Minor saw the circulation of many coinages over time and was highly monetarized at least by the end of the Hellenistic period. These coinages mirror the frequent changes in a political landscape that was characterized by different strata of authority, from the royal administration down to the city-states and villages. Through taxation, public expenditures, and by securing an institutional framework, these authorities shaped the complex conglomerate of Asia Minor’s economy.
The Prologue to Earthopolis: A Biography of Our Urban Planet discusses the importance of camps and villages to human migration and habitation of Earth and to the agricultural revolution. It differentiates the kinds of larger-scale actions we could take as residents of smaller habitats from those we could take in cities. It notes that while those smaller settlements existed long before cities and continued to exist beyond the influence of acts enabled by cities for many millennia, virtually all camps and villages have been incorporated into the Urban Planet’s realms of action, habitat, impact, and consequence today.
The Introduction to Earthopolis: A Biography of Our Urban Planet outlines large themes in the 6,000-year story of how cities gave humans the power to dominate Earth. Our Urban Planet is at once a plural and a singular phenomenon. Its diversity reflects the many birthplaces and birthdates of cities on six continents over six millennia, yet it has become a connected city-enabled habitat of a single species on a single planet. Cities – compact built spaces that rely on many other, dispersed ones – allowed us to harvest enough energy from the Sun and Earth to create the political communities, institutions, wealth, and ideas we needed to act on a global scale, to build an Earth-encrusting habitat, to impact all other parts of our planet’s biosphere, and to face the consequences. The life of Earthopolis exists in space and time. As our urban harvests of natural energy transformed throughout global urban history, from river valleys to the world ocean, and then to hydrocarbon, the geographic extent of our Urban Planet’s four defining realms – of human action, habitat, impact, and consequence – expanded and retreated across Earth. Now our Urban Planet puts us in perilous command of our host planet’s entire halo of life.
Architectural remains, especially domestic architecture, are essential for understanding the ways in which households organized themselves socially and economically in the past. Unfortunately, these remains are infrequently identified from Woodland period (1000 BC–AD 1000) archaeological sites along the Gulf Coast, an area home to well-known ceramic and mortuary traditions during this time. As a result, our knowledge of Woodland period households in the region is scant. In this article I present a newly discovered house from Letchworth (8JE337), a large Woodland period ceremonial center in northwest Florida, and compare it to the few published examples of houses from this region. I show that domestic architecture along the Gulf Coast during the Woodland period is diverse, suggesting differences in the organization of households and the historical development of ceremonial centers.
Although Egypt in the fifth century was highly integrated into the empire, it also began to develop new elements of distinctiveness. In part this trend resulted from divisions in theology and church politics that emerged around the Council of Chalcedon in 451, leading to deep splits in the church by the middle of the sixth century and the creation of competing church hierarchies. The native Egyptian language came to have its own literature and began to be used more widely in official contexts. At the same time, Alexandria remained a vibrant center of Greek culture, which permeated the rest of Egypt as well. The economic and social elite of the cities, increasingly closely tied to the imperial administration, concentrated wealth and power in their hands to a degree not seen earlier, even as most of the population continued to live in villages and work the land.
This chapter is principally concerned with the relationship between central and local power in Byzantium. It focuses on the resources and structures characterising political elite membership, particularly land, public offices and salaries, kinship, networks, status and display. From a mainly provincial perspective, it examines changes over time in the possessions and political horizons of elites, taking note of the roles of monasteries, villages and commerce. Considerable attention is paid to the polycentric Byzantine world of the later period, which continued until, and in some cases beyond, the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453 and involved polities beyond the Palaiologan dynasty. While much about Byzantine political practice changed between 700 and 1500, the post-1204 evidence reveals the long-term importance of the local to power in Byzantium, a state of affairs often hinted at in earlier periods but only rarely visible in the surviving sources.
Ethnohistoric accounts indicate that the people of Australia's Channel Country engaged in activities rarely recorded elsewhere on the continent, including food storage, aquaculture and possible cultivation, yet there has been little archaeological fieldwork to verify these accounts. Here, the authors report on a collaborative research project initiated by the Mithaka people addressing this lack of archaeological investigation. The results show that Mithaka Country has a substantial and diverse archaeological record, including numerous large stone quarries, multiple ritual structures and substantial dwellings. Our archaeological research revealed unknown aspects, such as the scale of Mithaka quarrying, which could stimulate re-evaluation of Aboriginal socio-economic systems in parts of ancient Australia.
Protesters in cities paid little attention to the concerns of China's rural residents, who reacted in different ways to the Tiananmen protests and Beijing massacre. Some parents of university students from rural backgrounds did not understand why their children wanted to protest. Other rural people did not see anything wrong with the crackdown. But one group of villagers – the parents of massacre victims – suffered greatly.
The judicial landscape in thirteenth century Japan was highly complex with multiple stakeholders in local conflicts. Court nobles, temples, governors, and warrior families all had vested interests in provincial affairs, yet official institutions for conflict management were often lacking or imperfect. The reach of the political centers was limited, and local officers in charge of law enforcement were rarely reliable in mitigating or de-escalating local conflicts. Local communities therefore had to develop their own conflict strategies on a continuum from evasive strategies to violent confrontations with estate owners, warriors, and neighboring communities. With the threat of a Mongol invasion in the second half of the thirteenth century, central powers sought to increase their control over the periphery. This process led to increasing resistance from locals who saw their traditional or recently acquired privileges and autonomy coming under pressure, and many of them resisted through violent means. This chapter argues that local communities developed armed organizations to manage inter-community disputes and as protection against violent, exterior threats, while such organizations were often described by central elites as banditry and predatory violence.
This chapter considers how Ghanaian citizens experience nuclear power in the Kwabenya environs. It establishes the setting of Atomic Junction, through archival evidence of territorial disputes in a borderland area home to Guan, Akan, and Ga families. From the 1960s, Ghanaian scientists, inspired by Nkrumah’s grand plan settled in the area to manage the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission. While they did not obtain the GHARR-1 until 1994, they led local families to believe that a reactor was installed around 1966. Given this widespread misunderstanding, the chapter asks how have people living near the reactor interpreted life on a nuclear frontier, or what Joe Masco has termed the “nuclear borderlands”? The chapter interprets how Ghanaians in Haatso, Kwabenya and other villages near the nuclear exclusion zone relate their experience with Atomic Lands (i.e. GAEC property) to the advent of nuclear spaces around the world where the potential for radioactivity excludes populations. It stresses the greater risk posed by petrol stations on the Haatso-Atomic Road, culminating in the 2017 explosion of a petrol tanker and a mushroom cloud at Atomic Junction.
In the upper Tembris valley, some 175 kilometres north of Eumeneia, there is another group of Christian gravestones, many of which use the phrase ‘Christians for Christians’. Only two extant ‘Christians for Christians’ epitaphs are dated, one to 249 and one to 305. There is a case for believing that many of these gravestones were made in the same workshop. This workshop expected to have more Christian than non-Christian customers. Gravestones were prefabricated in a range of decorative schemes and sold when only lettering remained to be done. Modern scholars have wondered if the ‘Christians for Christians’ gravestones commemorated people from a Montanist community, but the idea remains unproven. Stephen Mitchell has argued that the ‘Christians for Christians’ formula continued to be used until late in the fourth century, but Elsa Gibson’s view that the latest inscriptions in this category are from early in the fourth century is preferable. The first-century Colossian church, a place with distinctive characteristics perhaps not widely shared in the Christian churches of its time, may be a relevant comparison with the Christian community of the upper Tembris valley.
The Black Death first reduced England’s population by nearly one half then prevented demographic recovery. Volatility characterised the 1350s and 1360s, due to extreme weather conditions, poor harvests, contracting output, disrupted markets, labour shortages and a high turnover of people. Towns struggled to assimilate the influx of migrants. The availability of land on favourable terms, and of well-paid employment, greatly benefited the lower orders of society, but caused consternation to the ruling elite. The government responded with a wave of legislation to regulate labour mobility, prices and wages, so as to impose upon workers the discipline of manual labour deemed essential to the common profit. By the 1380s equilibrium had replaced the volatility. The economy had contracted, and shifted from arable production to pastoral and manufactured products. Towns were smaller, but their residents tended to be wealthier. The attitude of the authorities to labour had become more realistic and less idealistic, emphasising its noble qualities rather than denouncing its vices.
What is ‘heresy’? One answer would be, ‘that which orthodoxy condemns as such’; though we may also wish to consider when conscious dissent invites such a condemnation. The main ‘heresy’ in late medieval England was that usually termed Lollardy, understood to be inspired by the radical theological thought of John Wyclif (1328-1384), which among other things emphasised the overwhelmingly importance of Scripture, and of lay access to Scripture, through vernacular translation. Orthodox repression of heresy began in the late fourteenth century and developed in various ways in the fifteenth. There are small traces of these much wider battles in Chaucer’s oeuvre, but it would be very hard to say quite how he saw them. We might instead see the fluidity of attitude toward aspects of religion in Chaucer as a sign of his times. ‘Dissent’ can encompass more than that which is solidly decried as heresy, and ‘orthodoxy’ can turn out to be more than one mode of religious thought and expression.
The mediation of disputes by community leaders in China has deep historical roots and has long been among the responsibilities of neighbourhoods and villages. While most research on the topic has looked at cities, mediation is in fact more common in the countryside. This paper draws on a survey conducted in 2002 (n=2,164) and repeated in 2010 (n=2,659), covering 23 villages in five provinces, which provides detailed data on conflict from disputants themselves. We examine the evolution of this much-debated mode of conflict resolution and assess its prevalence and effectiveness relative to alternatives. We find that, even as overall rates of disputing declined, seeking intervention by village authorities remained as common a response to disputes in 2010 as it was eight years prior. The paper thus sheds light on a primary means through which the party-state has tried to maintain stability, tamp down strife, and assert its primacy at the community level.
This article examines ‘the village’ as a category of development knowledge used by policymakers and experts to remake the ‘Third World’ during the Cold War. The idea of the village as a universal category of underdevelopment, capable of being remade by expert-led social reform, structured efforts to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of people from Asia to Latin America and Africa. Rooted in a transnational interwar movement for rural reconstruction, village projects were transformed in the 1950s and 1960s by a scientization of development that narrowed the range of experts in the field and by Cold War politics that increasingly tied development to anti-communism and counterinsurgency. From India to Central America, strategic efforts to control rural populations won out over concerns for rural welfare.
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