The archaeological study of neighborhoods and districts in ancient cities

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162 Scopus citations


The spatial division of cities into residential zones is a universal feature of urban life from the earliest cities to the present. I propose a two-level classification of such zones that archaeologists can use to analyze preindustrial cities. Neighborhoods are small areas of intensive face-to-face social interaction, whereas districts are larger areas that serve as administrative units within cities. I review comparative historical data on neighborhoods and districts and outline archaeological methods for their identification and analysis. Illustrative cases are drawn from Mesopotamia and Mesoamerica, and I conclude with a review of the major top-down and bottom-up social forces that generate and shape neighborhoods and districts in preindustrial cities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-154
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Cities
  • Communities
  • Comparative analysis
  • Districts
  • Neighborhoods
  • Urbanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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