Paul Courbin puts forward a penetrating and eloquent critique of the New Archeology, a movement of primarily American and British archaeologists that began in the 1960s and continues today. The New Archeologists dropped the "ae" spelling, symbolizing their intent to put the field on a modern and scientific footing. They questioned the bases, the objectives, and consequently the methods of traditional archaeology. Courbin examines this movement, its latent philosophy, its methods and their application, its theories, and its results. He declares that the record shows a devastating failure. The New Archeologists, he contends, may have developed scientific hypotheses, but in most cases they failed to carry out what is necessary to test their theories, thus contradicting the very goals they had set for the discipline. Reevaluating the field as a whole, Courbin asks, What is archaeology? He distinguishes it from such related fields as history and anthropology, emphatically arguing that the primary task of archaeology is what the archaeologist alone can accomplish: the establishment of facts—stratigraphies, time sequences, and identification tools, bones, potsherds, and so on. When archaeological findings lead to historical or anthropological conclusions, as they very often do, archaeologists must be aware that this involves a specific change in their work; they are no longer archaeologists proper. The archaeologist's work, Courbin stresses, is not a humble auxiliary of anthropology or history, but the foundation upon which historians and anthropologists of ancient civilizations will build and without which their theories cannot but collapse. What Is Archaeology? was originally published in French in 1982.
The explorations of archaeology encompass the whole globe, survey 2.5 million years, and range from deserts to jungles, from deep caves to mountain tops, and from pebble tools to GPS. Its efforts to reconstruct and understand the past do not fail to fascinate us. Paul Bahn explores the importance of archaeology in this entertaining introduction.
University of Mysore. Dept. of Post-graduate Studies and Research in Ancient History and Archaeology
The essays in this book look back at some of the most important events where a role for an archaeology concerned with the past in the present first emerged and look forward to the practical and theoretical issues now central to a socially engaged discipline and shaping its future.
It is from the discards of former civilizations that archaeologists have reconstructed most of what we know about the past, and it is through their examination of today's garbage that William Rathje and Cullen Murphy inform us of our present. Rubbish! is their witty and erudite investigation into all aspects of the phenomenon of garbage. Rathje and Murphy show what the study of garbage tells us about a population's demographics and buying habits. Along the way, they dispel the common myths about our "garbage crisis"—about fast-food packaging and disposable diapers, about biodegradable garbage and the acceleration of the average family's garbage output. They also suggest methods for dealing with the garbage we do have.
Since its publication in 1996, The Oxford Companion to Archaeology has firmly established itself as the standard reference work in the field of archaeology, selling nearly 15,000 copies to date and remaining a favorite among students, scholars, and anyone interested in archaeology. In 700 entries, the second edition provides thorough coverage to historical archaeology, the development of archaeology as a field of study, and the ways the discipline works to explain the past. In addition to these theoretical entries, other entries describe the major excavations, discoveries, and innovations, from the discovery of the cave paintings at Lascaux to the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphics and the use of luminescence dating. Much has changed in the field since 1996. Recent developments in methods and analytical techniques (e.g., laser-based mapping and survey systems, new applications of the scanning electron microscope) have revolutionized the ways excavations are performed. Cultural tourism, cultural resource management, heritage, and conservation have been redefined as areas within archaeology, and have had new emphasis given them by scholars and administrators. Major new sites have expanded our understanding of prehistory and human developments through time. The second edition explores each of these advances in the field, adding approximately 200 entries and exanding the total work to three volumes. Neil Asher Silberman, a renowned practicing archaeologist, author, and scholar, and a board member for the first edition, is the editor in chief. In addition to significant expansion, first-edition entries have been thoroughly revised and updated to reflect the progress that has been made in the last decade and a half
Kevin Greene shows how archaeology can help provide a more balanced view of the Roman economy by informing the classical historian about geographical areas and classes of society that received little attention from the largely aristocratic classical writers whose work survives.
"This book exhorts the reader to embrace the materiality of archaeology by recognizing how every step in the discipline's scientific processes involves interaction with myriad physical artifacts, ranging from the camel-hair brush to profile drawings to virtual reality imaging. At the same time, the reader is taken on a phenomenological journey into various pasts, immersed in the lives of peoples from other times, compelled to engage their senses with the sights, smells, and noises of the publics and places whose remains they study. This is a refreshingly original and provocative look at the meaning of the material culture that lies at the foundation of the archaeological discipline."--Michael Brian Schiffer, author of The Material Life of Human Beings "This volume is a radical call to fundamentally rethink the ontology, profession, and practice of archaeology. The authors present a closely reasoned, epistemologically sound argument for why archaeology should be considered the discipline of things, rather than its more commonplace definition as the study of the human past through material traces. All scholars and students of archaeology will need to read and contemplate this thought-provoking book."--Wendy Ashmore, Professor of Anthropology, UC Riverside "A broad, illuminating, and well-researched overview of theoretical problems pertaining to archaeology. The authors make a calm defense of the role of objects against tedious claims of 'fetishism.'"--Graham Harman, author of The Quadruple Object