Social Inequality and Access to Services in Premodern Cities

Timothy J. Dennehy, Benjamin W. Stanley, Michael Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


We use spatial analytical methods to illuminate one aspect of the urban experience: equity of access to facilities that provide material, religious, and assembly services. We compare three cities known from archaeology (Teotihuacan, Tikal, and Empuries) and three historical cities (Bhaktapur, Chester, and Lamu). Some neighborhoods had better access to service facilities than others, pointing to ancient patterns of spatial inequality. Data on house size suggest that status also impacted service access. Greater travel time to service facilities negatively impacts the well-being of urban residents in two ways: it reduces access to key services, and it takes time away from other activities. Our methods for identifying these spatial patterns of inequality open a new window on the implications of social inequality for the premodern urban experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-160
Number of pages18
JournalArcheological Papers of the American Anthropological Association
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • Human experience
  • Social inequality
  • Spatial analysis
  • Urban services

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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