Regional Approaches to Society and Complexity: Setting an Agenda
Alex R. Knodell [+]
Thomas P. Leppard [+]
University of Cambridge
This introductory chapter lays out the framework and key themes of the present volume, explores the development of regional approaches to society and complexity over the last several decades and situates the papers that follow in terms of a comparative agenda. We begin by establishing context through a discussion of critical junctures in the history of regional studies. While taking a deliberately global view, we claim that the Aegean has been an exceptionally fruitful ground for the development of archaeology beyond the site, and that certain Aegean-based developments in archaeological survey and studies of sociopolitical complexity have represented crucial ways forward for comparative archaeology in the later twentieth and early twenty-first century, seen especially through the work of John F. Cherry. Such contributions include specifically the development of meso-scale, explicitly regional perspectives, as well as multi-scalar studies of complex societies that aim to synthesize local, regional, and inter-regional interactions. Nevertheless, disciplinary divisions between Mediterranean and other archaeological traditions remain an impediment to the type of regionally grounded, comparative perspectives advocated in this book. By examining patterns of divergence and convergence in methodological, theoretical, and disciplinary developments we provide a summary and assessment of regional approaches to the archaeological study of society and complexity in the Mediterranean and beyond.