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Are Two Heads Still Better than One? Considering a Unified Origin for American Social Complexity

Author(s): Jeffrey Dobereiner

Year: 2016

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Summary

For half a century, scholars have listed Mesoamerica and South America alongside the Near East, Egypt, China, and India as independent loci of emergent social complexity. Yet, recent scholarship has placed an increasing emphasis on the role of multi-regionalism and mobility in the emergence of world civilizations. These theoretical shifts, alongside suggestive findings of agricultural, material, and ideological unity in the Formative Americas, require us to ask: were pathways to complexity in Mesoamerica and South America truly independent? How does treating the Americas as a unified locus of social complexity impact comparative approaches to civilizations of the Old and New Worlds? In this paper, I explore the theoretical shift toward regional approaches to primary Old World civilizations, and how expanding their application is poised to transform how we understand the Americas. This offers a unifying anthropological narrative to the diverse papers of this session and contextualizes their contribution to studies of emergent social complexity worldwide.


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Are Two Heads Still Better than One? Considering a Unified Origin for American Social Complexity. Jeffrey Dobereiner. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 402957)


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min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America