Bridging prehistory and history in the archaeology of cities
Carballo, David M.
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CitationDavid M. Carballo, Brent Fortenberry. 2015. "Bridging prehistory and history in the archaeology of cities." Journal of Field Archaeology, v. 40, Issue 5, pp. 542 - 559.
Archaeology is ideally suited for examining the deep roots of urbanism, its materialization and physicality, and the commonalities and variability in urban experiences cross-culturally and temporally. We propose that the significant advances archaeologists have made in situating the discipline within broader urban studies could be furthered through increased dialog between scholars working on urbanism during prehistoric and historical periods, as a means of bridging concerns in the study of the past and present. We review some major themes in urban studies by presenting archaeological cases from two areas of the Americas: central Mexico and Atlantic North America. Our cases span premodern and early modern periods, and three of the four covered in greatest depth live on as cities of today. Comparison of the cases highlights the complementarity of their primary datasets: the long developmental trajectories and relatively intact urban plans offered by many prehistoric cities, and the rich documentary sources offered by historic cities.