Ephemeral Aggregated Settlements: Fluidity, Failure or Resilience?

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 84th Annual Meeting, Albuquerque, NM (2019)

This collection contains the abstracts of the papers presented in the session entitled "Ephemeral Aggregated Settlements: Fluidity, Failure or Resilience?," at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

In many parts of the world, the earliest large aggregated settlements existed for only a short time. Large temporary aggregations are found among some hunter-gatherer societies, lasting from days to weeks to months. When large settlements acquired a more permanent character, some retained a rather ephemeral character and only existed for a few generations or less. This symposium explores two aspects of the social dynamics of such settlements: the forces and processes that led people to aggregate; and the forces and processes that led to the break-up of such settlements. We include both case studies of ancient settlements, and theoretical/comparative papers. The session invites contributions to these debates, focusing particularly on the following: (1) What was the relative role of ritual, economic, political forces, or defense, in creating and dissolving short-lived aggregations? (2) Were they a regular part of the rhythms of certain ancient settlement systems, as suggested by Graeber and Wengrow, or were they a rarer or more sporadic phenomenon? (3) Should ephemeral urban settlements be considered as evidence of failure and collapse, or rather of flexibility and adaptation? (4) What can such episodes of short-lived aggregation teach us about processes of urbanization in the past and present?

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-10 of 10)

  • Documents (10)

Documents
  • Comparing Middle Woodland and Mississippian Period Agglomerations in the Eastern Woodlands of North America (2019)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Stefan Brannan. Jennifer Birch.

    This is an abstract from the "Ephemeral Aggregated Settlements: Fluidity, Failure or Resilience?" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. Large aggregated settlements have been a persistent feature of the settlement landscape of the Eastern Woodlands of North America for more than 3000 years. By the turn of the first millennium ephemeral agglomerated settlements become common settings for the enactment of practices and traditions that presage the next...

  • Delicate Nucleation in Etruria (2019)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Simon Stoddart.

    This is an abstract from the "Ephemeral Aggregated Settlements: Fluidity, Failure or Resilience?" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. Etruria, the urban landscape of first millennium BC central Italy, is renowned for its powerful stable urban places. This projection of power not only conceals the Rise of Rome, which profoundly affected these urban centres, but also the dynamism of the Etruscan urban landscape in the interstices between the metropoles....

  • Hunter-Gatherer Fission-Fusion in Ethnographic and Archaeological Records: From the Mbuti to Paleoindians (2019)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Michael Shott.

    This is an abstract from the "Ephemeral Aggregated Settlements: Fluidity, Failure or Resilience?" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. Archaeology views hunter-gatherers as nature’s children or launching pads to complex society. Ethnographic hunter-gatherers exhibit fission-fusion cycles that we explain variously, including modular organization of group sizes (e.g., "scalar-stress"). However well models explain ethnographic pattern, archaeological tests...

  • Narratives of Rise and Collapse: Fragile Urbanism in Early Iron Age Europe (2019)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Manuel Fernandez-Gotz.

    This is an abstract from the "Ephemeral Aggregated Settlements: Fluidity, Failure or Resilience?" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. While traditional research on early urbanism has focused predominantly on ‘successful cities’, i.e. urban settlements that show long settlement histories, recently scholarship has also started to pay increasing attention to cases of short-lived agglomerations which only lasted for some decades or generations. In this...

  • Rhythms of Settlement Aggregation and Disintegration in Iron Age Bavaria (2019)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Caroline Von Nicolai.

    This is an abstract from the "Ephemeral Aggregated Settlements: Fluidity, Failure or Resilience?" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. In many parts of Temperate Europe, the first aggregated and fortified urban settlements developed in the Early Iron Age. However, many of these settlements disappeared after a few generations. After a period of decentralization lasting at least two centuries, another episode of settlement aggregation took place in...

  • Seasonal, Dispersed and Ephemeral (2019)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Roland Fletcher.

    This is an abstract from the "Ephemeral Aggregated Settlements: Fluidity, Failure or Resilience?" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. By convention urban settlements have been described as densely inhabited, permanently sedentary, and usually protected by barriers. While the latter might be conceded the other two were, until early in the 21st century, assumed to be definitive and fundamental to the functions of urbanism. The definition was a pillar of...

  • The Seasonality of Ritual Sites in Viking-Age Scandinavia and Iceland (2019)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Alexandra Sanmark.

    This is an abstract from the "Ephemeral Aggregated Settlements: Fluidity, Failure or Resilience?" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. This paper will address Viking-age ritual sites (cult sites assembly (thing) sites) in Scandinavia and Iceland from the perspective of their seasonality. These sites were used for gatherings of various kinds seemingly at certain points of the calendar year. Calendrical rituals formed a key part of Viking-age religion,...

  • The Strange Attraction of Viking-Age Urbanism: The Predicament of Emporia (2019)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Søren Sindbæk.

    This is an abstract from the "Ephemeral Aggregated Settlements: Fluidity, Failure or Resilience?" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. Maritime trading emporia were nodal points of social networks and economic interactions in Viking-age Scandinavia. Despite their social centrality, archaeology shows that such places were rather small, unassuming, and sometimes short-lived settlement. This contrasts with a wealth of evidence pointing to communities...

  • Temporary Aggregation Sites in the Past: Are They Really So Strange and Anomalous? (2019)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Michael Smith.

    This is an abstract from the "Ephemeral Aggregated Settlements: Fluidity, Failure or Resilience?" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. Recent research suggests that temporary aggregation sites were more common in the past than many traditional models would predict. Why have scholars failed to recognize these sites? Why do they seem so strange? Beyond the development of more refined methods of settlement analysis, a major reason is a pervasive conflation...

  • Weakness and Precariousness in Central Italian Urbanization (2019)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nicola Terrenato.

    This is an abstract from the "Ephemeral Aggregated Settlements: Fluidity, Failure or Resilience?" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. The urbanization of western central Italy has had a peculiar role in our intellectual history, starting with its most famous fruit, the "eternal" city of Rome. With evident teleology, the narrative about the emergence of the earliest agglomerations in the early first millennium BCE has taken the form of an ascending...