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Reading the Past: Current Approaches to Interpretation in Archaeologyby Ian Hodder
Synopses & Reviews
The mainstream archaeology of the seventies, 'processual archaeology', modelled itself on the natural sciences. It has been challenged in recent years by a 'post-processual' archaeology which draws upon the wider perspectives of history and social anthropology, insisting that account must be taken of the context and meaning of behaviour, and that the ideological uses of archaeology be recognized by practitioners. Ian Hodder, a leading figure in the new movement, argues in this book that in explaining the behaviour of past societies a concern with meaning must be joined to the study of ecological constraints and economic and social processes. This leads him to discuss systems theory and structuralist and Marxist approaches in archaeology. Post-processual archaeology is socially engaged and multivocal, since if material remains may be treated in some ways as texts, they lend themselves to divergent readings. Hodder suggests that archaeologists must bring a variety of perspectives to bear in the complex and uncertain tack of 'translating the meaning of past texts into their own contemporary language'.
A revised edition of this controversial textbook first published in 1986. Hodder puts forward the case for a 'post-processual' archaeology which draws upon the wider perspectives of history and social anthropology.
Ian Hodder's controversial new book focuses on meaning in archaeology, arguing that the interpretation of meaning needs to be closely integrated with adaptive, economic and social factors when we are seeking to explain the behaviour of past societies. Symbolism and ideology are discussed in relation to history and social practice and general accounts are provided of systems theory in archaeology, of structuratist and Marxist archaeology, and of the relationships between archaeology and history. The author then defines what he has termed contextual and post-processual archaeology and examines their implications for the practice of the discipline. In particular, he argues that while material culture is not a literary text, an analogy with texts offers powerful insights into the nature of archaeological data and into the procedures involved in 'reading the past'.
A third edition of this classic introduction to archaeological theory and method.
About the Author
Professor Ian Hodder is Dunlevie Family Professor in the Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology at Stanford University.Scott Hutson is a Post-Doctoral Research Scholar at the Archaeological Research Facility, University of California, Berkeley
Table of Contents
Preface to the first edition; Preface to the second edition; 1. The problem; 2. The systems approach; 3. Structuralist archaeology; 4. Marxist archaeology, ideology and practice; 5. Archaeology and history; 6. An ethnohistoric example: reconsideration of ethnoarchaeology and middle range theory; 7. Contextual archaeology; 8. Post-processual archaeology; 9. Conclusion: archaeology as archaeology; Bibliography; Index.
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History and Social Science » Anthropology » General