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The Archaeology of the Longue Durée: Temporal and Spatial Scale in the Evolution of Social Complexity on the Southern Northwest Coast
  • Kenneth M. Ames, Portland State University
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  • Social archaeology -- Northwest Coast of North America,
  • Human evolution,
  • Social evolution,
  • Anthropology,
  • Archaeology
The emphasis on temporal and geographic scale of the French Annales school of history (cf. Braudel 1980; Baker 1984; Lewthwaite 1988) is the inspiration for this paper. Braudel (1980) divides time into three durations: short term events (days, weeks, months, a few years), medium length conjunctures (years, decades, even major portions of centuries), and long term structures (which may last centuries, even millennia). This last duration is the longue durée. Basic to Annales' thought - and the longue durée - is the idea that to understand historical developments, to explain their causes and dynamics, one must know their temporal and their geographic scale; one must know what happened at their edges and their centre, why they developed and why they passed away; and how they changed during their span. To do this, since we cannot assume we know the scales relevant to the phenomena which interest us (Braudel 1980), we must continually play different temporal and geographic scales off against each other.

This article was originally published in Antiquity. Archived here with author and publisher permission.

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1991 Ames, Kenneth M.,The archaeology of the longue duree: temporal and spatial scale in the evolution of social complexity on the southern Northwest Coast. Antiquity 65(249): 935-945.