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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.
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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