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Excavating Asian History: Interdisciplinary Studies in Archaeology and Historyby Norman Yoffee
Synopses & Reviews
Although history and archaeology each seek to elucidate the past, both sets of data are incomplete and ambiguous and thus open to multiple readings that invite contradictory interpretations of human activity. This is particularly true when scholars of each field ignore or fail to understand research in the other discipline. Excavating Asian History contains case studies and theoretical articles that show how archaeologists have been investigating historical, social, and economic organizations and that explore the relationship between history and archaeology in the study of pre-modern Asia. These contributions consider biases in both historical and archaeological data that have occasioned rival claims to knowledge in the two disciplines. Ranging widely across the region from the Levant to China and from the third millennium BC to the second millennium AD, they demonstrate that archaeological and historical studies can complement each other and should be used in tandem. The contributors are leading historians and archaeologists of Asia who present data, issues, and debates revolving around the most recent research on the ancient Near East, early Islam, India, China, and Southeast Asian states. Their chapters illustrate the benefits of interdisciplinary investigations and show in particular how archaeology is changing our understanding of history. Commentary chapters by Miriam Stark and Philip Kohl add new perspectives to the findings. By showing the evolving relationship between those who study archaeological material and those who investigate textual data, Excavating Asian History offers practical demonstrations of how research has been and must continue to be structured.
Book News Annotation:
Yoffee (Near Eastern studies and anthropology, U. of Michigan) and Crowell (philosophy, U. of Toledo) call for lowering the disciplinary walls between history and archaeology in the study of Asia. They present seven essays that simultaneously summarize recent research and examine methodological issues pertinent to the conduct of historical archaeology or archaeological history in the Iron Age Levant, Ancient Mesopotamia, early Islam, first millennium Jinan (China), South Asia, and Southeast Asian island nations. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Although history and archaeology each seek to elucidate the past, both sets of data are incomplete and ambiguous and thus open to multiple readings that invite contradictory interpretations of human activity. This is particularly true when scholars of each field ignore or fail to understand research in the other discipline.
About the Author
Norman Yoffee is Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Studies and the Department of Anthropology at the University of Michigan.
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