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UrbNet Visiting Profesor: Michael E. Smith, Arizona State University (April-July 2018)

Michael E. Smith is an archaeologist specializing in the Aztecs of central Mexico. His professional title is Professor of Anthropology in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change (formerly the Department of Anthropology) at Arizona State University. He has directed fieldwork projects at Aztec sites in the Mexican state of Morelos and in the Toluca Valley. His research focuses on two broad areas: Aztec social and economic organization, and the comparative analysis of ancient urban societies. His theoretical and comparative interests derive from a scientific, materialist, political-economy approach to ancient state societies. He has published on topics of urbanism, imperialism, households, and economic organization.

His many publications include:

  • Smith, M. E. 1979. "The Aztec Marketing System and Settlement Patterns in the Valley of Mexico: A Central Place Analysis", American Antiquity 44, 110-125.
  • Smith, M. E. (ed.) 2011. The Comparative Archaeology of Complex Societies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
  • Smith, M. E., Arnauld, M. C. & Manzanilla, L. (eds) 2012. The Neighborhood as a Social and Spatial Unit in Mesoamerican Cities (Tucson: University of Arizona Press).
  • Smith, M. E. 2014. "Housing in Premodern Cities: Patterns of Social and Spatial Variation", International Journal of Architectural Research 8.3, 207-222.  
  • Smith, M. E. 2016. "Aztec Urbanism: Cities and Towns", in: Nichols, D. L. & Rodríguez-Alegría, E. (eds), The Oxford Handbook of the Aztecs (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 201-217.

During his stay (April-July 2018), Michael E. Smith will give a lecture series entitled Cities Before the Modern Era: Population, Functions and Urban Life. The lecture series explores the nature of early cities using a simple causal model (see diagram) that explains variations in urban life and society, and urban form, with respect to three kinds of forces:

1.     Population (population size and density, and the role of energized crowding)

2.     Urban functions (the effect of urban activities on areas outside a city)

3.     External economic and political forces

Michael explore similarities and differences among cities and towns before the modern era, and also include comparisons with cities today. The scope of the lecture series includes archaeological and historical data on settlements prior to the Early Modern Period in Europe, and prior to European conquest and colonization in other parts of the world. A major conclusion of the lecture series is that many of the important processes traditionally associated with urbanism in fact existed in non-urban settlements, including Neolithic villages prior to the Urban Revolution, and non-urban settlements today. 

The lecture series will contain many case studies of individual cities, or groups of cities, and these will carry much of the argument. Michael will need help with research on many or most of the case studies (in order to use examples that fit well with the work of UrbNet), and they will require the inclusion of many plans and images in the lecture series. Michael may make use of a typology of settlements, organized by size and urban functions (he has not decided yet on the role, if any, of this typology in the lecture series). 


The lecture series includes the following lectures:

Lecture 1: What is a city? Why do people live in cities?

Lecture 2: Why do Cities exist?

Lecture 3: The size of cities in the ancient world

Lecture 4: The political and economic functions of cities

Lecture 5: Life in early cities: social organization, neighborhoods, and inequality

UrbNet Visiting Professor: Maura Heyn, University of North Carolina - Greensboro (1 June - 31 July 2018)

Maura Heyn’s research focuses on funerary sculpture in the Roman empire, particularly the sculpture from the Syrian city of Palmyra. She is interested in issues of social identity, cultural change, ancient clothing and dress, and the archaeology of the body. Her current book project, Provincial Life, Roman Death: The Funerary Portraiture of Palmyra, analyzes the multifaceted ways in which funerary sculpture mediated social relations in the aftermath of Roman conquest. Other research interests include the mural decoration of the Temple of Bel in Dura-Europos, and the significance of hand gestures in Roman funerary portraiture.

Her many publications include:

  • Heyn, M. K. 2017. "Western Men, Eastern Women? Dress and Cultural Identity in Roman Palmyra", in: Cifarelli, M. & Gawlinski, L. (eds), What Shall I Say of Clothes? Theoretical and Methodological Approaches to the Study of Dress in Antiquity, Selected Papers in Ancient Art and Architecture, 3 (Boston: Archaeological Institute of America), pp. 210-217.
  • Heyn, M. K. & Steinsapir, A. I. (eds). 2016. Icon, Cult, and Context: Essays in honor of Susan B. Downey (Los Angeles, CA: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA).
  • Heyn, M. K. 2016. "Gesture at Dura-Europos; A New Interpretation of the So-called ‘scène énigmatique", in: Kaizer, T. (ed.), Religion, Society and Culture at Dura-Europos, Yale Classical Studies, 38 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 105-115.
  • Heyn, M. K. 2015. "Status and Stasis: Looking at Women in the Palmyrene Tomb", in: Raja, R., Kropp, A. & Sørensen, A. H. (eds), World of Palmyra, Palmyrenske Studier, 1 (Copenhagen: The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters), pp. 197-209.
  • Heyn, M. K. 2010. "Gesture and Identity in the Funerary Art of Palmyra", American Journal of Archaeology 114.4, 631-661

During her stay (1 June - 31 July 2018), Maura Heyn will co-organize the workshop "Attributes in Palmyrene Funerary Sculpture" within the framework of the Palmyra Portrait Project.

UrbNet Visiting Professor: Roland Fletcher, University of Sydney (8-30 June 2018)

Over the past thirty years Roland Fletcher has developed a global and interdisciplinary perspective in Archaeology, that integrates research, teaching and service. His fields of expertise are the theory and philosophy of archaeology, the study of settlement growth and decline and the analysis of large-scale cultural phenomena over time. In 1995 Fletcher published The Limits of Settlement Growth: a theoretical outline - an analysis of the past 15,000 years of settlement-growth and decline - with Cambridge University Press. Fletcher has an international reputation as a radical theorist and as the instigator of the Greater Angkor Project, which derives from his theoretical work and is part of a major research program in Cambodia. The program of research on Angkor has developed international collaborations for the University of Sydney and has enhanced its public profile through media presentations, such as the National Geographic International TV program 'Lost City'. The Angkor research team also serves the intentional community through the applied research of the Living with Heritage Project at Angkor, in collaboration with the Cambodian government and UNESCO.

Fletcher's many publications include:

  • Fletcher, R. 2007. The Limits of Settlement Growth: A theoretical outline (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
  • Fletcher, R. 2016. "The Trantor-Coruscant Conundrum: Deep Time, Imagined Interstellar Urbanism and the SETI Debate", in: Frederick, U. K. and Clarke, A. (eds), That Was Then, This Is Now: Contemporary Archaeology and Material Cultures in Australia (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing), pp. 118-133.
  • Fletcher, R. 2012. "Low-density, agrarian-based urbanism: scale, power, and ecology", in: Smith, M. E. (ed.), The Comparative Archaeology of Complex Societies (New York: Cambridge University Press), pp. 285-320.
  • Fletcher, R. & Evans, D. 2012. "The dynamics of Angkor and its landscape", in: Haendel, A. (ed.), Old Myths and New Approaches: Interpreting Ancient Religious Sites in Southeast Asia (Clayton: Monash University Publishing), pp. 42-62.
  • Lucero, L., Fletcher, R. & Coningham, R. 2015. "From 'collapse' to urban diaspora: the transformation of low-density, dispersed agrarian urbanism", Antiquity 89.347, 1139-1154.

During his stay (8-30 June 2018), Roland Fletcher will give a lecture series (title: Material Behaviour) containing three lectures and three discussion-seminars (titles: Principles, Evolution and Behaviour).

The lecture series includes the following lectures:

Lecture 1: Material Behaviour: Principles.

Lecture 2: Material Behaviour: Evolution.

Lecture 3: Material Behaviour: Behaviour.

The workshop series includes the following lectures:

Workshop 1: Material Behaviour: Principles.

Workshop 2: Material Behaviour: Evolution.

Workshop 3: Material Behaviour: Behaviour.