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The Quintessence of Pre-Columbian Cities

The Quintessence of Pre-Columbian Cities

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Lectures (8)

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The Overview

The lectures on Pre-Columbian communities can form a course, part of a course or individual lectures can be integrated into new or existing courses. Because very few cites existed in Pre-Columbian America, villages are also considered. Together the selected cities and towns exemplify a range of cultures, time periods and urban and architectural feature (except for Blackfoot villages, each lecture focuses on a UNESCO World Heritage site). Each lecture concerns a different settlement, and discusses landscape, plan, buildings (material, construction and use), belief systems and inter- and intrasite communication, and considers sites as nodes in larger social constellations. In addition to considering sites as paradigmatic representations of their culture, lectures examine how each is quintessential regarding a sense of place. The cities and towns, moreover, all have ample evidence about residences, the loci of family and identity, and discuss storage, furniture, cooking facilities, gardens and domestic rituals, and explicate the lives of commoners and elites. Phenomenology, memory and sensory aspects (including sight lines, visual aesthetics and acoustics) evince how people dwelled in and experienced their settlements. Instead of featuring empty, static settlements, or the civic-ceremonial centers that dominate much of Pre-Columbian studies, experiential aspects contribute to an understanding of how people actually lived spatially, socially, and ontologically.