Gordon Childe’s List Anthropology Assignment

Throughout the course of the semester we have discussed many of the things that archaeologists do as part of their jobs, from the research before an excavation to the interpretation of the data collected through said excavation. Yet this is not all archaeologists do, we have to able to explain what happened and sometimes even create models or lists of universals, like Ellman Service’s definitions of types of polities or V. Gordon Childe’s list of what makes a city a city.

This assignment is meant to get you to the next stage in archaeological thought: creating your own hypotheses about the available data. In this case, the data will be your own observations of the city you are living in and other cities around the country and the world that you might have visited or know. Your task is to update V. Gordon Childe’s list of what makes a city a city in this modern era.

As you might remember, Childe includes in his list things like having monumental architecture, foreign trade, or taxes, but his list seems a little outdated, specially considering that cities and how we live in them have changed since the past to today.

In order to receive full marks you need to:

  • Come up with 10 traits that make a population center a city
  • Write a small paragraph explaining why this is needed in a city or why having a particular trait makes a city one.

For example:

1. Population: having more than 200,000 people makes a city a city because a concentration of that size means that people have to be organized by a central government.

Be creative! You can to use Childe’s list as inspiration, but you are NOT allowed to copy it and present it as your own work. If you do so, you will get a zero in the assignment.

It should be no more than 2-3 pages. Please email your instructor with questions.

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