Violence and Inequality: An Archaeological History

University Press of Colorado

Violence and Inequality explores the deep-time archaeological relationship between violence and inequality, focusing on prehistoric archaeology’s contribution to the understanding of the human dynamics among coercive force, aggression, and the state. Detailed archaeological case studies within a strong theoretical framework built from historical studies consider the role of coercive violence in trajectories toward complexity, how levels and types of violence can be traced alongside emerging wealth disparities, and the social role of violence.

The assumption that violence and its threat buttressed elite social control is now challenged from various perspectives. This volume incorporates new models of the relationship between violence and social inequalities into the archaeology of social complexity, building more complicated and nuanced understandings of how different modes of social violence can militate different types of social constitution. Contributions from a variety of methodological angles—such as the bioarchaeology of health and trauma and radiogenic isotope studies and the aesthetics of violence—use a comparative perspective, drawing on data from the Southwestern US, Bronze Age China, early dynastic Egypt, ancient Mesopotamia, Roman Britain, and the Andes.

Violence and Inequality offers an original and deep history of violence and inequality. Understanding the long-term intersection of violence and inequality and how they support or erode one another is of intrinsic importance, making this work significant to the study of archaeology, economic history, and collective action.

Contributors: Roderick Campbell, Roselyn Campbell, Ryan Harrod, Brenna Hassett, Debra Martin, Laerke Recht, Robert Stephan, Edward Swenson, Darryl Wilkinson



  • Thomas P. Leppard

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Violence and Inequality: An Archaeological History