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Grant number: FA-58536-15

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Timothy Robert Pauketat
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (Urbana, IL 61801-3620)

Spirits, Birds, and Luminous Beings: Reconceptualizing Ancient Urbanism

From Neolithic China 5000 years ago to Africa and the Americas before 1492, new theories and even newer archaeological evidence from the ruins of cities and city-like places have spurred me to rethink what it means to be human in an urban world. My project mobilizes the most recent archaeological evidence and approaches to non-human agents to challenge our understanding of cities both past and future. I reexamine forms of ancient urbanism that have been typically left out of archaeological accounts, and advocate recognizing that in these pre-modern contexts people were thoroughly entangled with non-human beings, spirits, substances, and cosmic powers. By extension I suggest that the causes and effects of civilizations old and new hinged on human relationships with these forces. Unusual cities such as Tiwanaku in Bolivia, Cahokia in Illinois, and Liangzhu outside Shanghai prove that urbanism requires reconceptualization.

Project fields:

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2015 – 7/31/2016