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Meant as a homage to the memory of Robert McCormick Adams and born out of a conference organized at the University of Bologna to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of his book The Evolution of Urban Society: Early Mesopotamia and Prehispanic Mexico (1966), the volume brings together contributions by scholars tackling ancient urbanism from different regions and theoretical perspectives aiming at providing elements that could enhance cross-cultural dialogue and cross-fertilization between various theoretical and methodological approaches.
The book opens with a theoretical contribution to notions such as cooperation, collective action, and social networks, followed by an essay providing a view of Teotihuacan urbanism based on a new understanding of its corpus of mural paintings. As for the near eastern side, the outreach of the Late Uruk culture outside southern Mesopotamia is evaluated vis-a-vis the emergence of Late Chalcolithic elites tackled through an analysis of large-scale resources distribution networks. The implications of surface surveys for studying early Syro-Mesopotamian urbanism are discussed in the framework of two newly designed field projects, while the specific subject of water management is reviewed through a study case in Central Asia. Finally, Adams’ contributions between 2000 and 2012 are set into perspective and the volume closes with a complete bibliography of Robert McCormick Adams, highlighting his amazing contribution to many research areas and especially to the study of ancient urbanized landscapes.