Monday, November 8, 2010

Becoming Villagers

The Book, as I like to call it, is out. It was officially published in September. I think it looks great, contains some terrific scholarship, and I can't wait to hear what people think of it. Thanks to Jake Fox, my wonderful co-editor, without whom this thing would never have been completed. You can buy it on Amazon!
Becoming Villagers: Comparing Early Village Societies

Edited by Matthew S. Bandy and Jake R. Fox

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.
The image at the top is the source for the cover art. Unfortunately, it is yet another engraving from Theodore de Bry depicting a New England village scene. De Bry engravings are a very popular source of imagery for archaeological texts. I had originally proposed an engraving from a 1707 edition of Hans Staden's description of his captivity among the Tupinamb√° of Brazil. (second image). I thought this was great and different until the editor pointed out that it depicted an execution scene in the plaza of a village, and that the palisade was surmounted by severed heads. We all decided that the de Bry image was probably a better choice after all.

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