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A Catalyst for Ideas

Anthropological Archaeology and the Legacy of Douglas W. Schwartz

Edited by Vernon L. Scarborough

In his thirty-four years as president of the School of American Research, Douglas W. Schwartz’s far-reaching vision placed SAR on the intellectual edge of research about humans across the globe. Nowhere is this more evident than in his influence on the field of anthropological archaeology. The twelve essays in this volume celebrate his contributions by looking back at changes in the field and forward to vital questions, methods, and theories yet nascent. Ranging geographically from the North American Southwest-where Schwartz himself conducted extensive research-to Mesopotamia, central America, and the Indian subcontinent and chronologically from early hominid evolution through archaic hunter-gatherers to the classic and historical Maya, the distinguished contributors make the case for Schwartz’s enduring legacy. Addressing major issues in relations of power, writing systems, and directions for future research, this volume is at once mature in its depth and exciting in its boldness.

2005. 440 pp., 49 black-and-white illustrations, 8 tables, notes, references, index, 6 x 9

Contributors: Gary M. Feinman, Carolyn Heitman, Grant D. Jones, Robert L. Kelly, Richard M. Leventhal, Stephen Plog, Anna C. Roosevelt, Jeremy A. Sabloff, Vernon L. Scarborough, Carla M. Sinopoli, Gil J. Stein, David S. Stuart, W. H. Wills, Henry T. Wright

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“Vernon Scarborough has turned a festschrift into a masterful survey of current research into ancient social complexity. This subtle and closely argued portrait of current theoretical argument shows us that archaeology is alive and well. No one interested in such topics as ecology, landscape, and social dynamics should be without it. I cannot imagine a better tribute to Doug Schwartz than this important and timely volume.”
—Brian Fagan, University of California, Santa Barbara

“This volume honors [Douglas Schwartz’s] contributions to archaeology but also reflects SAR’s [School of American Research’s] broader mission – all the contributors were resident scholars at the school and benefited from the … interdisciplinary intellectual stimulation provided at SAR… In sum this is an ambitious book that successfully pays tribute to the School of American Research and to Schwartz’s role as a ‘catalyst for ideas.’”
—William D. Lipe, New Mexico Historical Review, 82, no. 4 (Fall 2007)


  1. Introduction
    Vernon L. Scarborough
  2. Hunter-Gatherers, Archaeology, and the Role of Selection in the Evolution of the Human Mind
    Robert L. Kelly
  3. Economic Competition and Agricultural Involution in the Precontact North American Southwest
    W. H. Wills
  4. Kinship and the Dynamics of the House: Rediscovering Dualism in the Pueblo Past
    Carolyn Heitman and Stephen Plog
  5. The Institutionalization of Leadership and Inequality: Integrating Process and History
    Gary M. Feinman
  6. “Invisible” Social Sectors in Early Mesopotamian State Societies
    Gil Stein
  7. The Polycentricity of the Archaic Civilizations
    Henry T. Wright
  8. Ecology in Human Evolution: The Origin of Humans and Their Complex Societies
    Anna C. Roosevelt
  9. The Power of Landscapes
    Vernon L. Scarborough
  10. Polity and Economy in Fourteenth- through Seventeenth-Century South India: Lessons from Archaeology and History
    Carla M. Sinopoli
  11. Ideology and Classic Maya Kingship
    David Stuart
  12. Ethnohistorical Knowledge and Interdisciplinary Research: Rethinking Colonial “Resistance” on the Colonial Frontiers of Yucatán
    Grant D. Jones
  13. Concluding Comments: The Continuing Vitality of Anthropological Archaeology
    Richard M. Leventhal and Jeremy A. Sabloff
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