book cover for Connected Communities

Connected Communities: networks, identity, and social change in the ancient Cibola world
Matthew A Peeples
University of Arizona Press, $60
ISBN 978-0816535682
Review by: Deborah L Huntley


Matthew Peeples opens his book with a question that nearly every archaeologist has heard at one time or another when engaging the public at a site visit: ‘Who were the people who lived here?’ As convincingly shown in this book, social identity was just as complex in the past as it is today, but archaeologists can nevertheless use material culture to track various processes of identification. Moreover, different processes of identification may promote or discourage largescale social transformations, which Peeples argues happened in the distant past much as they have in more recent history.

Peeples compiles an enormous body of past research, combining network analysis, technological and stylistic studies of ceramics, and architectural data in unique ways to produce a compelling narrative, explaining sweeping changes that occurred in a portion of the USA during the 12th-14th centuries AD. Online appendices contain a wealth of supplemental information for this study, including additional figures, datasets, statistical documentation, and even coding sheets for utility-ware technological analysis and painted-ware design analysis.

Peeples’ innovative research has broad implications for how archaeologists study identity, ethnicity, culture areas, and collective action, and his approach could be applied to any part of the world and to any time period.

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