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date: 02 July 2022

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.

Keywords: households, communities, quality of life, standard of living, prosperity, networks, resilience

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