Empirical Urban Theory for Archaeologists

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87 Scopus citations


I review several bodies of empirical urban theory relevant to the archaeological analysis of ancient cities. Empirical theory is a type of "middle-range theory" (following Robert Merton): sets of concepts and methods that are less abstract, and have greater empirical content, than high-level social theory. The categories of theory reviewed here include environment-behavior theory, architectural communication theory, space syntax, urban morphology, reception theory, generative planning theory, normative theory, and city size theory. Most of these approaches originated in the fields of architecture, planning, and geography, and they directly link the urban-built environment to the actions of people within cities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-192
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Archaeological Method and Theory
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Built environment
  • Middle-range theory
  • Planning
  • Theory
  • Urbanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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