Archaeology as a social science

Michael Smith, Gary M. Feinman, Robert D. Drennan, Timothy Earle, Ian Morris

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7617-7621
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number20
StatePublished - May 15 2012


  • Anthropology
  • Cultural evolution
  • Economics
  • Political science
  • Sociology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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