The study of complex societies, especially those with documentary sources, provides an unparalleled opportunity for the archeologist to contribute to an understanding both of the past and of contemporary society. We argue that available documentary sources for early North African state societies can be effectively combined with anthropological insight to formulate interpretive models to derive more meaning from the archeological record. The illustration we provide comes from early Islamic North Africa. We postulate that during the Medieval period two widely different sociopolitical contexts existed, giving rise to diverse urban patterns. Most importantly, we argue that the second of these patterns represents a widespread situation that is inadequately treated in the literature.
complex society, Islam, Medieval Morocco, North Africa, Urban development
American Anthropologist, Vol. 92, No. 3 (Sep., 1990), pp. 630-646