Thinking Like an Archaeologist

When archaeologists try to understand the past, they typically focus on processes that happen over long periods of time and affect many people. This is quite different from the way we understand our own lives, where we always seem to be dealing with this week’s events and how they might affect us or our families. What might it mean to think like an archaeologist about our present time? Tim plunges into these turbid waters with thoughts about climate change and inequality that draw on the past but implicate the future. He’ll begin by looking at wealth distributions through time in the northern Southwest, then enlarge that view to look at wealth distributions in world prehistory. Tim will attempt to relate this to another strand of work dealing with how societies change how they handle information as they grow in size. Finally, it’ll close with a quick look at future climates and population that takes as its anchor past and current distributions of population relative to temperature.