Book traces the history of urbanism through an archaeological lens

phys.org | 4/26/2019 | Staff
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The only thing a person really needs to be an archaeologist is a good sense of observation, UCLA professor of anthropology Monica Smith proclaims in her most recent book, Cities: The First 6,000 Years.

Advanced degrees and research experience are useful of course, but successful fieldwork is rooted in "noticing," she said.

Archaeologists - Traces - Stories - Days - UCLA

Archaeologists are always looking down noticing traces of what's been left behind, and the stories detritus can tell, she said. These days at UCLA that might mean traces of glitter bombs launched by graduates during the last several weeks.

"We walk along and there's all this glitter on the ground, and even though it gets cleaned away, you can never get it all so then you start to see little traces of glitter everywhere, because people are tracking it on their shoes all around campus," Smith said. "We're not only walking through an archaeological site, we're making one."

Smith - Thought - Archaeologists - Meaning - Elements

Smith is amused at the thought of future archaeologists encountering and interpreting the meaning behind those trace elements of shimmer in the dust around this particular area in one of Earth's largest cities.

In vivid style, Smith's latest book examines ways in which human civilization has organized itself into city life during the last 6,000 years, a relatively short time span in the grand scheme of human existence. Today, more than half of the world's population resides in cities, and that number will continue to grow. But that wasn't always so.

Cities - Smith - Ways - Hubs - Parts

In Cities, Smith tracks the ways metropolitan hubs in different parts of the world emerged unrelated to one another, but in eerily similar forms, revealing the inherent similarities of humans' needs regardless of what part of the world their civilization evolved.

"I started asking myself, 'Why do these places all look the same even though they're different times, different areas, different cultures and different languages?'" she...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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