Synopses & Reviews
Writing the history of American archaeology, especially concerning eighteenth- and nineteenth-century arguments, is not always as straightforward as it might seem. Archaeologyand#8217;s trajectory from an avocation to a semi-profession to a specialized profession, rather than being a linear progression, was an untidy organic process that emerged from the intellectual tradition of antiquarianism. Itand#160;then closely allied itself with the natural sciences throughout the nineteenth century, especially with geology and the debate about the origins and identity of the indigenous mound-building cultures of the eastern United States.and#160;In his reexamination of the eclectic interests and equally varied settings of nascent American archaeology, Terry A. Barnhart exposes several fundamental, deeply embedded historiographical problems within the secondary literature relating to the nineteenth-century debate about and#8220;Mound Buildersand#8221; and and#8220;American Indians.and#8221; Some issues are perceptual, others contextual, and still others are basic errors of fact. Adding to the problem are semantic and contextual considerations arising from the problematic use of the term and#8220;raceand#8221; as a synonym for tribe, nation, and race properand#8212;a concept and construct that does not in all instances translate into current understanding and usage. American Antiquities uses this early discourse on the mounds to reframe perennial anthropological problems relating to human origins and antiquity in North America.
andldquo;Americans are reminded constantly of our diverse modern society. In his important and interesting book, Barnhart shows readers that diverse aboriginal cultures occupied the American continent for thousands of years. American Antiquities contains detailed, substantial, and well-referenced information on the early historic encounter with ancient America and its implications.andrdquo;andmdash;Francis P. McManamon, general editor of Archaeology in America: An Encyclopediaand#160;and#160;
andldquo;Terry Barnhart is notably the worldandrsquo;s foremost expert on E. G. Squier. This work broadens the discussion [of mound building] by picking up earlier influences on nineteenth-century speculations about the Ohio Valley mounds, as well as delving into more of the impact of Squier on his contemporaries. Barnhart has pulled together a number of contributors to the history of mound builders that are not in other histories of the field. This volume provides a rich new perspective on this component of American antiquarianism.andrdquo;andmdash;David L. Browman, author of Cultural Negotiations: The Role of Women in the Founding of Americanist Archaeology
About the Author
Terry A. Barnhart is a professor of history at Eastern Illinois University. He is the author of Ephraim George Squier and the Development of American Anthropology