The Archaeology of American Cities

Nan A. Rothschild and Diana diZerega Wall

Foreword by Michael S. Nassaney
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"Unrivaled in scope. An essential work for urban historical archaeologists."--Adrian Praetzellis, author of Dug to Death

"An engaging and astonishingly comprehensive work that reveals just how much our knowledge of America’s cities and the lives of city dwellers has been enriched through urban archaeology."--Mary C. Beaudry, coeditor of Archaeologies of Mobility and Movement


American cities have been built, altered, redeveloped, destroyed, reimagined, and rebuilt for nearly 300 years in order to accommodate growing and shrinking populations and their needs.

Urban archaeology is a unique subfield with its own peculiar challenges and approaches to fieldwork. Understanding the social forces that influenced the development of American cities requires more than digging; it calls for the ability to extrapolate from limited data, an awareness of the dynamics that drive urban development, and theories that can build bridges to connect the two.

At the forefront of this exciting field of research, Nan Rothschild and Diana Wall are well suited to introduce this fascinating topic to a broad readership. Following a brief introduction, the authors offer specific case studies of work undertaken in New York, Philadelphia, Tucson, West Oakland, and many other cities. Ideal for undergraduates, The Archaeology of American Cities utilizes the material culture of the past to highlight recurring themes that reflect distinctive characteristics of urban life in the United States.

Nan A. Rothschild, director of the Museum Studies Program and professor of anthropology at Barnard College, Columbia University, is the author of three books, including New York City Neighborhoods: The 18th Century. Diana diZerega Wall, professor of anthropology at the City College of the City University of New York, is the author of The Archaeology of Gender and the coauthor of Unearthing Gotham.
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Overall, The Archaeology of American Cities is of high academic integrity, well researched, and suitable for the classroom. At the same time, the book remains accessible to the general public interested in historic archaeology by detailing the historical development of the field itself and through readers being able to relate to the subject matter....Rothschild and Wall should be commended for their straightforward approach and effective synthesis of such a vast amount of urban archaeological studies. -- Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology

The Archaeology of American Cities is an outstanding introduction to a rapidly developing field in archaeology. -- American Archaeology

The definitive read for all urban archaeologists....Essential. -- Choice

Concisely written, thematically organized, and divided under subheadings, the book provides a solid introduction to the topic, and will be a useful point of reference for students.-- Current World Archaeology

Does an admirable job of describing the work of a small group of researchers who are making interesting discoveries in difficult places.-- Illinois Archaeology

Rothschild and Wall skillfully weave together several important themes that run throughout the work: theoretical understandings of urbanism and cities, the diversity of urban experiences, the multiplicity of ideas about what defined a city at different moments in American history, and the practice of archaeology in urban environments.-- American Antiquity

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