Anthropology, Univ. of Toronto


Fall 2005

Course Web Page:

Mondays 1-3, 560A Sid Smith Building, St. George


Dr. Heather M.-L. Miller

Office:  208 North Building, UTM     or      269S Monk Centre, St. George

Phone:  UTM:  905-828-3741 (can leave message)         St. George: 


Office Hours at St. George  (269S Monk Centre):   Mondays or Fridays by appointment


Course Description

The course on Archaeology of Urbanism will focus on a variety of archaeological and anthropological topics related to the study of cities in the past, both prehistoric and historic.   Topics include the development of archaeological and anthropological thought about cities, the relationship between the existence of cities and states, the development of cities, social systems in cities, relations between cities and rural communities, city typologies, and cross-cultural comparison of cities.   We will not focus on archaeological (excavation & survey) methods for the study of cities, although we can include this if students desire.  The exact topics will be chosen with the participants, to fit student interests and world areas.




Required:  Download readings available through electronic journals at U of T (marked with a *).

Other articles or book sections will be available in the photocopy room at St. George.  If you take anything to copy, please leave a note indicating when you will return it so others can plan.

You are responsible for acquiring the book for your book review either from U of T library or Interlibrary Loan, so do not wait too late!


Recommended:  Many of the books in the bibliography are key background references for this class, your research, and future teaching on the subject.  If you can buy them now, do so.  Otherwise, plan for the future.  Note: If you are having trouble buying books, the UTM bookstore will order the book at cost (no shipping charge) if you pay at the time of ordering.


Course Requirements and Grading


[1] 10%:  Verbal Participation in class.  This includes class attendance, critical discussion of readings, and the book report presentation.  Students may be assigned as discussion leaders for particular classes/articles. 


[2] 25%:  'Position Papers' written for each class.  These are short statements (1 page single-spaced, 12 pt. font) summarizing the main point of each of the readings for that class, and indicating how they fit with each other and/or with the theme(s) for the day.


[3] 20%:  Written Book Report.  Each student will chose a book in consultation with the instructor, either from the list of suggested books or from suggestions by the student.  The due date for the book reports will depend on the book chosen, as students will have to verbally present the book report in class (see [1] above) on a day when a similar topic is under discussion. 

Written Report: Actively and critically read your assigned book, taking detailed notes.  Prepare an 800-1000 word (typed double-spaced) review, using the format specified on the "Book Report Format" sheet.

Your review will be assessed for completeness, conciseness, and originality of thought,

Verbal Presentation:  This will count as part of the Verbal Participation in class mark(above).  In about 15-20 minutes, present a summary of the book's contents, thoughtfully emphasizing those parts that relate to the general topic for the day, and comparing them to the day's class readings.  You will be graded according to how well you are able to communicate to the class the book's main points and discuss them in relationship to our course materials, particularly the topic for the day.  Though you will certainly use your written critical review as a guide in preparing your presentation, be aware that your presentation should not be identical to your written review, because it serves a somewhat different purpose.

NOTE: the book report verbal presentation may NOT be a Powerpoint presentation, although you may use the chalkboard to list an outline or key points if you like.


[4] Paper. 45% total (5% + 40%):  Each student will do an individual paper on a topic of their choice relating to urbanism, subject to prior approval by the instructor.  This will be submitted in two parts:

         Topic Statement and Bibliography          5%    Due Oct. 17

         Written Paper                                      40%    Due Dec. 12


The topic statement should provide a clear and precise summary of the topic of the paper, an initial statement of your thesis and argument, and a general outline of the paper's expected contents.  (These may change as you do more research.)  I expect this topic statement to be about 1 single-spaced or 2 double-spaced pages long, at least.  You must also submit of list of references found to date, in proper bibliographic format (preferably Current Anthropology or American Antiquity format).

The final paper should be clearly written and well-structured, with no spelling or grammatical errors.   It should have an initial statement of thesis and argument, and a clear summing up of these at the end.  Paper length is flexible and depends on the topic, but I expect about a 20 page paper (double-spaced, 12 point font).   Some topics can be well-presented in less space; some will require more. 

This paper should be seen as an opportunity to work on your writing skills, as well as an opportunity to improve your intellectual grasp of the topic, and to hone your ability to present an argument.  I will give you feedback on these points for your topic statement and your final paper.  I highly recommend consulting the Writing Centre for advice if your writing needs improvement. 


Class Schedule



Topics & Readings

Sept. 12


Selection of Class Topics

Initial discussion of book reports and paper topics

Sept. 19

Summaries of Ideas about Urbanism

Cowgill, George L. 2004. Origins and Development of Urbanism: Archaeological Perspectives. Annual Review of Anthropology 33: 525-549.

Blanton, R. E. 1976. Anthropological studies of cities. Annual Review of Anthropology 5: 249-264.

Trigger, Bruce G. 2003. Ch. 7: Urbanism.  Understanding Early Civilizations. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. Pp. 120-141. 

Stein, Gil. 1998. Heterogeneity, Power, and Political Economy: Some Current Research Issues in the Archaeology of Old World Complex Societies. Journal of Archaeological Research 6(1): 1-44.  (Read pp. 1-16 for this class, the rest if it fits your interests.)

Sept. 26


Some Early Classics in the Archaeology/Anthropology of Urbanism (1950s - 1960s)


Childe, V. G. 1950.  The Urban Revolution. Town Planning Review Vol. 21(1): 3-22.

Adams, R. M. 1966.  The Evolution of Urban Society.  Early Mesopotamia and Prehistoric Mexico. Chicago: Aldine Press.    [Read Ch. 1 (pp. 1-37); Intro & Conclusions of other chapters: pp. 38-39, 76-78 / 79-80, 117-119 / 120-123, 166-169; and Ch. 5 (pp. 170-175).]


Selected papers from:  Ucko, P. J., R. Tringham, and G. W. Dimbleby (eds). 1972. Man, Settlement and Urbanism,  Cambridge: Duckworth and Co.  This volume is from a conference held in 1970, reflecting the culmination of research and thinking in the 1960s and earlier.

--Smith, M.G.  Complexity, Size and urbanization.  Pp. 567-574

--Trigger, Bruce.  Determinants of urban growth in pre-industrial societies. Pp. 575-599.

--Wheatley, Paul. The concept of urbanism.  Pp. 601-637.

Oct. 3


The Heyday of the Archaeology/Anthropology of Urbanism (1970s)


Fox, Richard G. 1977. Urban anthropology : cities in their cultural settings.  Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. [ Read Ch. 1, Anthropology and the City, pp. 1-16.]

Redman, Charles.  1978.  The Rise of Civilization.  San Francisco: W. H. Freeman and Co. [Read Ch. 7, The Origins of Urban Society, pp. 215-243.]

Review Blanton 1976 (see Sept. 19)

Eames, Edwin & Judith G. Goode.  1977.  The Anthropology of the City.  An Introduction to Urban Anthropology.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.  [Read Ch. 1, The Development of Anthropology & Ch 2, The Meaning of Urban in Urban Studies & Urban Anthropology, pp. 3-69.]


 (We will read other classics from this decade in later classes, for particular topics.)

Oct. 10


Thanksgiving - no class

Oct. 17




Early Influences from History & Sociology on the Archaeology/Anthropology of Urbanism  (influences from other disciplines will be covered in later classes)


History (several approaches summarized by various authors given in): 

Benton, John F. (ed.) 1968.  Town Origins.  The Evidence from Medieval England.  Problems in European Civilization series.  Boston:  D.C. Heath & Co.

--Benton, John F.  Introduction.  Pp. ix-xviii.   &    Suggestions for Additional Reading. Pp. 107-108.

--Pirenne, Henri (reprint)  Commerce Creates Towns.  Pp. 1-7

--Mumford, Lewis (reprint)  Towns Create Commerce.  Pp. 7-11

--Ennen, Edith (reprint, translated) The Variety of Urban Development. Pp. 11-18


Sociology: Review first part of Blanton 1976 (see Sept. 19) and Eames & Goode 1977 (see Oct. 3).

Martindale, D.  1958.  Prefactory remarks: The theory of the city.  In D. Martindale & G. NeuwirthÕs translation of Max WeberÕs The City.  New York: Free Press.  Pp. 9-62.

Oct. 24


Reconfiguring Comparative (Diachronic & Synchronic) Approaches  (1990s-2000s)


Review Stein 1998 (plus also read Conclusion) and Cowgill 2004 (see Sept. 19)

Trigger, Bruce G. 2003. Preface and Ch. 2: Comparative Studies.  Understanding Early Civilizations. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. Pp. ix-x; 15-39.

Southhall, Aidan.  1998.  The City in Time and Space.  Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. [Read the first half of Ch. 1, ÔWriting the city under crisisÕ, pp. 3-13.]

Oct. 31


What is a City?  Definitions and Classifications of Cities


Review Blanton's 1976 and Cowgill's 2004 definitions (see Sept. 19), Wheatley's 1972 definitions (see Sept. 26), and Redman's 1978 definitions (see Oct. 3).

Review Trigger's 2003 & 1972 (see Sept. 19 and Sept. 26) definition & discussion of classifications.

Eames, Edwin & Judith G. Goode.  1977.  The Anthropology of the City.  An Introduction to Urban Anthropology.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.  [Read Ch. 3, The Role of Cities, pp. 73-113]

Fox, Richard G. 1977. Urban anthropology : cities in their cultural settings.  Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. [ Read Ch. 2, Cities and Societies, pp. 17-38.]

Southhall, Aidan.  1998.  The City in Time and Space.  Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. [Read the second half of Ch. 1, "Writing the city under crisis", pp. 14-22.]

Nov. 7


Cities & States (more definitions and classifications)


Smith, Monica L.  2003.  Introduction: The Social Construction of Ancient Cities.  In M.L. Smith, The Social Construction of Cities.  Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.  Pp. 1-36.

Marcus, Joyce and Gary M. Feinman. 1998.  Introduction.  In G.M. Feinman and J. Marcus (eds.), Archaic States.  Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press.  Pp. 3-13.

Yoffee, Norman.  2005.  Myths of the Archaic State.  Evolution of the Earliest Cities, States, and Civilizations.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press.  [Read Introduction and Ch. 1, The Evolution of a Factoid (pp. 1-21); Ch. 3, The Meaning of Cities in the Earliest States & Civilizations (pp. 42-90); Ch. 8, New Rules of the Game (pp. 180-195); and ÔEvolutionary Histories of the Earliest Cities, States, and CivilizationsÕ (pp. 228-232).]

Review Trigger 2003 and Stein 1998 and Cowgill 2004 (see Sept. 19).

Nov. 14


Spatial Studies: City Structure, Space & Place


Review Cowgill 2004 (see Sept. 19).

Smith, Adam T.  2003.  The political landscape : constellations of authority in early complex polities.  Berkeley: University of California Press.  [Read Ch. 5, Regimes, pp. 184-231.]

Keith, Kathryn.  2003.  The Spatial Patterns of Everyday Life in Old Babylonian Neighborhoods.  In Monica L. Smith, The Social Construction of Cities.  Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.  Pp. 56-80.

Basso, Keith H. 1996.  Wisdom Sits in Places:  landscape and language among the Western Apache.  Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press.  [Read Preface and Ch. 1. Quoting the Ancestors, pp. xiii-xviii, 3-35.]

Nov. 21


Spatial Studies: City & Region


Review Blanton 1976 (see Sept. 19)


Selected papers from:  Schwartz, Glenn M. and Steven E. Falconer (eds.). 1994. Archaeological Views from the Countryside: Village communities in early complex societies. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

--Schwartz, Glenn M. and Steven E. Falconer. Rural Approaches to Social Complexity.  Pp. 1-9.

--Kramer, Carol.  Scale, Organization, and Function in Village and Town. Pp. 207-212.

--Hayden, Brian.  Village Approaches to Complex Societies.  Pp. 198-206.


Yaeger, Jason.  2003.  Untangling the Ties that Bind: The City, the Countryside, and the Nature of Maya Urbanism at Xunantunich, Belize.  In Monica L. Smith, The Social Construction of Cities.  Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.  Pp. 121-155.

Nov. 28


Ethnicity / Cultural Identity, Population Diversity in Cities


Review Cowgill 2004 (see Sept. 19)

Attarian, Christopher J.  2003.  Cities as a Place of Ethnogenesis: Urban Growth and Centralization in the Chicama Valley, Peru.  In Monica L. Smith, The Social Construction of Cities.  Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.  Pp. 184-211.

Eames, Edwin & Judith G. Goode.  1977.  The Anthropology of the City.  An Introduction to Urban Anthropology.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.  [Read Summary of Ch. 4, Primary Units; Ch. 5, Major Urban components: Neighborhood, Ethnic Group, and Occupation; and Summary of Ch. 6, Units of Integration,  pp. 157-215, 252-254]

One more article to be announced




Dec. 5


Process of Urbanization (and Political Economy?)


Review A. Smith 2003 (see Nov. 14) and Attarian 2003 (see Nov. 28)

Falconer, Steven and S. Savage. 1995. Heartlands and Hinterlands: Alternative trajectories of early urbanization in Mesopotamia and the southern Levant.  American Antiquity 60: 37-58.

Wenke, Robert J.  1997.  City-States, Nation-States, and Territorial States: The Problem of Egypt.  In D.L. Nichols and T.H. Charlton The Archaeology of City States: Cross-Cultural Approaches.  Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.  Pp. 27-49.  (Does not include bibliography)

Kolata, Alan.  1997.  Of Kings and Capitals: Principles of Authority and the Nature of Cities in the Native Andean State.  In D.L. Nichols and T.H. Charlton The Archaeology of City States: Cross-Cultural Approaches.  Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.  Pp. 245-254.  (Does not include bibliography)

Possibly another article to be substituted for one of the above Ð to be announced




PAPER DUE  by Dec. 12 (Monday)

BOOK REVIEW FORMAT, CONTENT, & WRITING TIPS         (with thanks to Roger Lohmann)




Title of the BookAuthor's Name.  City: Press, year.



University of Toronto


The text of your review.  Direct quotes must be in "quotation marks" (p.1). References to specific sections or paraphrases of particular ideas of the author must also be cited with page number in parentheses at the end of the sentence (p.2).



II.  CONTENT.   Your review should include the following:


1. An introduction, in which you begin with a striking statement that is interesting and perhaps little-known, to excite and draw in the reader (not something obvious, gratuitous, or inaccurate like "since the beginning of time, humans have wondered about the stars"), foreshadow the content of your review, and end with your thesis regarding this book.


2. A summary of the book, including the book's:

 a) topic (the general area of inquiry--what the book is about)

 b) issue (the tension between two or more ideas that may be in conflict on which the author takes a stand)

 c) question (that which the author sets out to answer in writing the book)

 d) thesis (the authorÕs main point or assertion)

 e) evidence (the facts that the author mentions to support his or her thesis)

 f) argument (the way the author links the evidence together to convince the reader that his or her thesis is correct).


3. Your analysis of the book, including an argument and evidence in support of YOUR thesis.

 a) A fuller exploration of your thesis statement that presents your evaluation and opinion of the book.  This thesis should take a stand that is more developed than a simple declaration of whether you "liked" the book or not.

 b) Specific evidence (possibly including short quotations) from the book  which illustrate your points about its strengths and weaknesses.


Basically, your analysis examines the assumptions or presuppositions of the book's argument; evaluates its validity, strengths and weaknesses; and makes clear your position in relation to the authorÕs.  You will need to ask yourself some of the following questions as you think about the book: What values and beliefs come through in the book?  What assumptions about the world or humans does the author make?  Do you agree with those assumptions?  Why or why not?  How does the truth or falsity of the assumptions affect the validity of the argument?  Where is the argument weakest, and where is it strongest?  Does the conclusion logically follow from the argument?  Does the author have any "blind spots" or commit any oversights?


Keep in mind that you can like a writerÕs basic argument and still be critical of parts of it.  Likewise, you can disagree with a writerÕs conclusions, but admire his or her argument.  In such a case, make clear why you agree with some parts and disagree with others.  Working out exactly what you like and dislike, what you agree and disagree with in a book puts you in a dialogue with its author and establishes you as an authority in your own right.  You have the power to agree, disagree, or tackle what the author says just as you would in a conversation with friends.  The most important thing to remember for this assignment is this: your argument about the book will be the most important and interesting part of your paper.


4. A conclusion, in which you sum up your position and end with an interesting point.





Q: What is the thesis of a piece of writing?

 The thesis of a book or a paper is the central point to which all of the facts and opinions are appended to convince the reader to agree with the author.  A thesis is a proposition that is maintained by argument and evidence.  Books and articles may not state their theses explicitly, or may have several related theses.  To find the thesis you as the reader need to think about what the piece as a whole is saying in the most general way, and state it in your own words in a sentence or two.


Any essay you write at university, including this book review, needs a thesis.  Your paper needs to go somewhere, it must not just be a list of facts.  The facts that you do include need to be there for a reason: they provide evidence for your thesis.  An important part of revising early drafts of your paper is searching for sentences and paragraphs that are tangential, and which are not relevant to your thesis.  Cut them out.  If there is a hole left behind, you need to find relevant evidence to fill in your argument.  Never hand in first or second drafts that you have not meticulously revised for accuracy, logical consistency, and errors of spelling and grammar.  Catching errors is easier if you read your paper aloud to yourself or a friend.


Q: How can I figure out what my thesis is?

 Having done your reading, you may have a thesis in mind from the start.  In this case, write your thesis first, and then proceed to build your paper around it.  Sometimes your thesis will not be completely clear to you until you have spent some time writing and thinking your way along through your first draft.  Then, summarizing your own paper can help you find your thesis.  By looking over your rough draft, you can see what general point seems to underlie what you are writing.  You may find more than one, or see that the point you were trying to make doesn't hold up.  In this case you need to remove some parts of your essay or think about a better way to focus your paper.  In a way all writing is summarizing--deciding what to include or exclude.  Part of this decision depends on your purpose, your audience, and how much space you have.  Your thesis is, in a sense, the most boiled down summary of your paper that is possible, and will usually be one sentence (but no longer than a paragraph) in length.


Q: What is meant by "argument" in writing?

 An argument consists of facts or statements put forth as evidence--a reason to accept the writer's thesis.  All papers must have an argument, but this does not mean that you are necessarily attacking the work of others; rather you are presenting a flowing, logical stream of information to back up your thesis.  An argument is a course of reasoning aimed at demonstrating truth or falsehood.  It is the connections drawn between the bits of evidence that demonstrate your thesis.  Connections are many, and the one you are interested in may not be obvious.  A successful argument identifies relevant bits of evidence and those elements that are indicative, and connects these with each other for your reader.  Just as math professors ask you to show your work, in writing you need to show your reader the course of your thinking that led you to your conclusions.  Don't assume that your audience is thinking the same way you are--you have to lead them by the hand without being patronizing.