Examines the many ways water has contributed to power structures in the past, with insights for contemporary water management.
Water, an essential resource in all cultures, is at the heart of human power structures. Utilizing a diverse range of theoretical perspectives, the contributors to Water and Power in Past Societies provide a broad introduction to the archaeology of water-related power structures. The studies herein explore the long history of water politics in human society, offering new insights into the power structures and inequalities surrounding irrigation systems, the collection of rainwater as a component of ancient industrial production, and sea water as a facilitator of communication, trade, and aggression. In addition to examining the role of different types of water in creating power relationships, the volume presents case studies from a variety of climatic regions, ranging from the very dry to the tropical. This geographical breadth facilitates cross-cultural comparison, making Water and Power in Past Societies an essential resource for instructors and students of the archaeology of water. Finally, in addition to reaching conclusions with significant implications for archaeologists and anthropologists, the volume has real contemporary relevance, often drawing explicit parallels with issues of current and future water management.
Emily Holt is Research Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York.