Abstract and Keywords
The archaeology of empires has been of long-standing interest in modern study of the past, fitting into different agendas over the last 200 or 300 years. From an initial interest in finding ways in which European powers could benefit from the experience of past colonizers in expanding their own dominions to post-colonial concerns with exposing the inner workings of imperialism with a critical eye, imperial societies have been regarded as distinctive and suitable for cross-cultural comparison. How such empires are theorized is the subject of this chapter, from debates about typologies of imperial organisation to attempts to liberate the oppressed of the past with the tools that the archaeological record provides. Approaches to the growth and collapse of empires from different perspectives (systemic, contextual, etc.) are also key issues, as is the relevance of comparing past empires of the old and new worlds to contemporary conditions of globalization
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