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Because of advances in methods and theory, archaeology now addresses issues central to debates in the social sciences in a far more sophisticated manner than ever before. Coupled with methodological innovations, multiscalar archaeological studies around the world have produced a wealth of new data that provide a unique perspective on long-term changes in human societies, as they document variation in human behavior and institutions before the modern era. We illustrate these points with three examples: changes in human settlements, the roles of markets and states in deep history, and changes in standards of living. Alternative pathways toward complexity suggest how common processes may operate under contrasting ecologies, populations, and economic integration.


Michael E Smith, Gary M Feinman, Robert D Drennan, Timothy Earle, Ian Morris. Archaeology as a social science. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2012 May 15;109(20):7617-21

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PMID: 22547811

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