- New Paths into the Anthropocene: Applying Historical Ecologies to the Human Future
- Thinking Like An Archaeologist and Thinking Like an Engineer: A Utilitarian-Perspective Archaeology
- Expedience, Impermanence, and Unplanned Obsolescence: The Coming-About of Agricultural Features and Landscapes
- Just How Long Does ‘Long-Term’ Have to Be? Matters of Temporal Scale as Impediments to Interdisciplinary Understanding in Historical Ecology
- Archaeology, Historical Sciences, and Environmental Conservation
- Landscaping, Landscape Legacies, and Landesque Capital in Pre-Columbian Amazonia
- Integrating Geoarchaeology with Archaeology for Interdisciplinary Understanding of Societal–Environmental Relations
- Digging for Indigenous Knowledge: ‘Reverse Engineering’ and Stratigraphic Sequencing as a Potential Archaeological Contribution to Sustainability Assessments
- Linking the Past and Present of the Ancient Maya: Lowland Land Use, Population Distribution, and Density in the Late Classic Period
- Paleozoology Is Valuable to Conservation Biology
- Historic Molecules Connect the Past to Modern Conservation
- Community and Conservation: Documenting Millennial Scale Sustainable Resource Use at Lake Mývatn, Iceland
- Soils, Plants, and Texts: An Archaeologist’s Tool-Box
- Grappling with Interpreting and Testing People–Landscape Dynamics
- From Narratives to Algorithms: Extending Archaeological Explanation beyond Archaeology
- Growing the Ancient Maya Social-Ecological System from the Bottom Up
- Wells, Land, and History: Archaeology and Rural Development in Southern Africa
- Participatory Checking and the Temporality of Landscapes: Increasing Trust and Relevance in Qualitative Research
- Freelisting as a Tool for Assessing Cognitive Realities of Landscape Transformation: A Case Study from Amazonia
- A 1980 Attempt at Reviving Ancient Irrigation Practices in the Pacific: Rationale, Failure, and Success
- The Invisible Landscape: The Etruscan <i>Cuniculi</i> of Tuscania as a Determinant of Present-Day Landscape and a Valuable Tool for Sustainable Water Management
- The Rehabilitation of Pre-Hispanic Agricultural Infrastructure to Support Rural Development in the Peruvian Andes: The Work of the Cusichaca Trust
- Applied Archaeology in the Americas: Evaluating Archaeological Solutions to the Impacts of Global Environmental Change
- Indigenous Technologies, Archaeology, and Rural Development in the Andes: Three Decades of Trials in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru
- Quality of Life and Prosperity in Ancient Households and Communities
- Applied Perspectives on Pre-Columbian Maya Water Management Systems: What are the Insights for Water Security?
- Beyond Rhetoric: Towards a Framework for an Applied Historical Ecology of Urban Planning
- Culture, Power, History: Implications for Understanding Global Environmental Change
- Energy Gain and the Evolution of Organization
- Conclusion: Anthropocentric Historical Ecology, Applied Archaeology, and the Future of a Usable Past
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter proposes conceptual and methodological approaches to measure ancient quality of life and prosperity using archaeological data. For households, the author draws on Amartya Sen’s writings to measure the quality of life from two elements. First, the standard of living can be reconstructed from quantities of valuable goods. Second, the choices or capabilities of households can be measured from the diversity of goods available to households, and from their participation in external social networks. For communities, the author proposes archaeological measures of prosperity based on network concepts from the work of Samuel Bowles, Herbert Gintis, and Elinor Ostrom. These include joint participation in collective projects, stability of residence, population growth, longevity of settlement, and resilience of external shocks. The chapter’s political-economy approach brings the archaeological study of households and communities into the broader domain of contemporary research on quality of life and prosperity.
Michael E. Smith is Professor of Archaeology in the School of Human Evolution & Social Change at Arizona State University. He has directed fieldwork projects at sites in the provinces of the Aztec empire, excavating houses to study daily life. His books include The Aztecs (3rd edition, 2012), Aztec City-State Capitals (2008), and the award-winning At Home with the Aztecs (2016). As Director of the ASU Teotihuacan Research Laboratory in Mexico, Smith now researches social life at the ancient city, and curates the archives of results from the Teotihuacan Mapping Project. He also conducts transdisciplinary research on comparative and historical urbanism. He has published on ancient urban planning and the dynamics of social life and society in ancient cities, and participates in two comparative, transdisciplinary urban projects. One focuses on access to urban services in premodern cities (http://cities.wikispaces.asu.edu/), and the other on the scaling of settlement characteristics with population (http://www.colorado.edu/socialreactors/).
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