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V. Gordon Childe (1892–1957) was the most influential archaeologist of the twentieth century. His model of “the urban revolution” was a major contribution to scholarly understanding of the earliest cities. Childe's career began with excavations and publications on European prehistory in the 1920s. In the 1930s he turned to synthesis on a larger scale. Until this time, the conceptual approach of archaeologists was focused rather narrowly on chronology and technology. Childe was the first to apply explicit and theoretically grounded social interpretations to archaeological data, producing novel (and influential) syntheses of prehistory. Using a Marxist approach, Childe identified two fundamental social transformations in the human past: the neolithic revolution and the urban revolution. The first signaled the initial adoption of agriculture and a sedentary lifestyle, ...

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