“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
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