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After Dark

The Nocturnal Urban Landscape and Lightscape of Ancient Cities

edited by Nancy Gonlin & Meghan E. Strong

Hardcover Price $76.00
Ebook Price $61.00
30-day ebook rental price $30.50

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 “Pathbreaking. This work is full of useful knowledge.”
—David B. Small, Lehigh University

“This innovative and engaging collection explores the global experiences and diverse creations of landscapes of the night in the ancient world. Covering topics ranging from nightscapes to nocturnal processions, the authors document the diverse strategies and technologies used to resist and adapt to darkness from fire beacons in Mesopotamia to the flickering oil lamps at the Sanctuary of Samothrace. The scope is global: Ur to Chaco Canyon, Deir el-Medina to Tiwanaku, Cahokia to Conchapata, and beyond. The archaeological implications are widely significant. The essays are always enlightening in this stimulating, illuminating volume.”
Jerry D. Moore, California State University, Dominguez Hills, author of Incidence of Travel

"This volume is an excellent introduction explaining how to incorporate the dimension of darkness into research questions in order to widen the scope of the results. . . It should inspire many more scholars to venture down similar dimly lit paths."

"The volume succeeds in 'throwing down the gauntlet' to scholars focused on ancient cities who have not asked what the urban world was like at night and how the archaeological record shows nighttime activities."
American Anthropology

"This collection certainly demonstrates that by ignoring what happened after dark, we are missing out on key aspects of ancient urban lived experience."
Journal of Anthropological Research

"After Dark provocatively and effectively shows that daytime was not necessarily the principal province of life in the past while also demonstrating that an archaeology of the night requires attending to distinct material traces and approaching them in new ways."
American Antiquity

After Dark explores the experience of nighttime within ancient urban settings. Contributors present material evidence related to how ancient people manipulated and confronted darkness and night in urban landscapes, advancing our knowledge of the archaeology of cities, the archaeology of darkness and night, and lychnology (the study of ancient lighting devices).

Sensory archaeology focuses on the sensual experience of the nocturnal environment—the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feel of an ancient city—and the multi-faceted stimuli that diverse urban populations experienced in the dark. Contributors investigate night work—for example, standing guard or pursuing nocturnal trades—and nightlife, such as gambling at Chaco Canyon. They also examine how urban architecture, infrastructure, and the corresponding lighting were inextricably involved in enabling nighttime pursuits and signaling social status.

The subjects of the night, darkness, and illumination taken together form a comprehensive framework for analyzing city life. After Dark embraces night as a conceptual lens through which to view the material and visual cultures of the ancient world and, in doing so, demonstrates a wealth of activities, behaviors, and beliefs that took place between dusk and dawn. This perspective greatly enriches the understanding of urban life and its evolution and has much to offer archaeologists in deepening an examination of complexity and inequality. This volume will be of interest to any scholar or student of the past who is interested in urban activities and the significance of the night in urban settings.

Contributors: Susan M. Alt, J. Antonio Ochatoma Cabrera, Martha Cabrera Romero, Tiffany Earley-Spadoni, Kirby Farrah, Nancy Gonlin, Anna Guengerich, Christopher Hernandez, John Janusek, Kristin V. Landau, Maggie L. Popkin, Monica L. Smith, Meghan E. Strong, Susan Toby Evans, Robert S. Weiner

The Archaeology Show
"Ancient Maya Nights," Anthropology News
Archaeology after Dark, Alabama Archaeological Society


Nancy Gonlin is a Mesoamerican archaeologist who specializes in daily and nightly practices, household studies, and inequality. She is editor-in-chief of Ancient Mesoamerica, and her publications include the coedited volumes Commoner Ritual and Ideology in Ancient Mesoamerica, Ancient Households of the Americas, Human Adaptation in Ancient Mesoamerica and Archaeology of the Night. She is coauthor of Copán: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Maya Kingdom and The Archaeology of Native North America, 2nd ed. Gonlin is a professor of anthropology at Bellevue College in Washington.

Meghan E. Strong is adjunct assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University and research associate at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. An archaeologist and art historian, she specializes in sensory archaeology, performance, and perception within the cultures of ancient Egypt and the Near East. She is the author of Sacred Flames: The Power of Artificial Light in Ancient Egypt.

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  • Hardcover Price: $76.00
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-64642-259-3
  • Ebook Price: $61.00
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $30.50
  • EISBN: 978-1-64642-260-9
  • Publication Month: August
  • Publication Year: 2022
  • Pages: 312
  • Illustrations: 63
  • Discount Type: Short
  • Author: edited by Nancy Gonlin & Meghan E. Strong
  • ECommerce Code: 978-1-64642-259-3
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission

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