Synopses & Reviews
What is historical archaeology and why is it important? Well-known archaeologist Barbara Little addresses these key questions for introductory students in this concise, inexpensive, and well-written text. Little covers the goals of historical archaeological work, the kinds of questions it asks, and the ethical and political concerns it raises. She shows what historical archaeology can provide that neither of its parent disciplines can offer alone. Little offers brief snapshots of key American sites: Jamestown, Mission San Luis, West Oakland, the African American Burial Ground, and the Garbage Project, among others. And she shows how historical archaeology is inextricably linked to public education, justice issues, and our collective understanding of the past. As an introductory guide for historical archaeology and similar courses, or as thought-provoking reading for professionals, this volume is unmatched in quality and scope.
"Barbara Little's book is easy to read and raises the readers's consciousness about the value of historic archaeology. It is a must read for both aspiring and experienced historical archaeologists as well as archaeologists passionate about their prehistoric archaeology." —Newsletter of the Archaeological Society of Maryland // "Well-known archaeologist Barbara Little has written a primer for this emerging field. In it she covers the key questions posed by historical archaeology and the ethical and politcial concerns they raise. Little imparts case studies of important projects like Jamestown, Virgina; Mission San Luis, Florida; and the Garbage Project to illustrate her points. Historical Archaeology is a fine introduction to the field of study that relates to public education, issues of justice, and our understanding of the past." —American Archaeology // "You couldn’t ask for a more engaging and interesting guide. Using clear and fascinating examples, Barbara Little explains how historical archaeologists carry out their work. She convincingly demonstrates that knowledge of the American past sheds light on our current circumstances and helps us move forward to better future. A real tour de force!" —Elizabeth Brumfiel, Northwestern University // "A fine starting point for an historical archaeology class...this book would also serve enlightened introductory archaeology or four-field anthropology instructors who wish to include historical archaeology in their courses. Engagingly written without being patronizing, I would certainly use this in my classes." —Elizabeth Scott, Illinois State University // "Little has produced a high-quality, intellectually-stimulating, and thought-provoking book. The text is thoroughly engaging. Her use of anecdotes and humor is delightful, drawing the reader into the dialogue in a most compelling way. The emphasis on socially responsible scholarship is a particularly appealing feature of the text. Our discipline was fundamentally altered during the late 1980s and early 1990s with the passing of NAGPRA legislation, the New York African Burial Ground project, and similar issues. I have struggled to find appropriate texts that bring these issues to the foreground. Little does this brilliantly. This text will serve well as the backbone upon which a course is built. I believe this text would have broad appeal within historical archaeology." —Deborah L. Rotman, University of Notre Dame // "Historical Archaeology has something for everyone interested in the US past. For undergraduates and professionals unfamiliar with archaeology Little has written and engaging overview of the questions, practices, and solutions of contemporary historical archaeology. For her professional colleagues, Little’s distinctive perspective, gained from years in federal and academic archaeology, has lead her to refreshingly novel syntheses of the American past and understandings about the emerging field of Public Archaeology. Herein are ideas aplenty that will influence the thinking and practice of our discipline into the 21st century." —Robert Paynter, University of Massachusetts // " Historical archaeology students, educators, and general readers will find a rewarding experience in the pages of Barbara Little's book. They will encounter wide-ranging case studies contextualized in many key issues in contemporary historical archaeology, they will discover the basic tenets of historical archaeological practice and theory presented through accessible prose, and they will be exposed to many reasons—political, social, economic, and cultural—why the past really does matter. Those who doubt the vitality or relevance of historical archaeology need only read this little book with a big perspective to be convinced otherwise. ..The book is designed as a text for introductory courses in historical archaeology but it should find an audience in general archaeology courses that include (as they should!) examples of historical archaeology." —Stephen Silliman, Journal of Anthropological Research
"Littles book contains a wealth of ideas and thoughtful exploration, relevant well beyond its United States focus. As an archaeologist working within a government context, the book was useful to me in considering how archaeology and heritage management fir within the idea that social change is a desired objective of government action." —Steve Brown, Australasian Historica Archaeology
"The undoubted strength of Historical Archaeology is Littles clear, concise and chatty writing style, with its frequent use of the first person pronoun. Many first- and second-year undergraduates will find Littles engaging approach infinitely preferable to the starchier style of more traditional text books." - Australian Archaeology
"Barbara Little is a top US historical archaeologist and this book is a fast-paced, highly readable, and eminently sensible introduction to the subject. What really comes across is her passionate commitment to the idea that archaeology has a central role to play in understanding the recent past." - Current Archaeology
"Historical Archaeology: Why the Past Matters is a thoroughly engaging text exploring the nature of archaeology of periods thought to be well known through documentary evidence and discussing how we handle the archaeology of that past. Succinctly and concisely written." —Archaeology Ireland
What is historical archaeology and why is it important? Well-known archaeologist Barbara Little addresses these key questions for introductory students in this concise, inexpensive, and well-written text.
About the Author
Barbara Little is a historical archaeologist with a long history of federal archaeological service and teaching. She is editor of Public Benefits of Archaeology (Florida, 2002) and coauthor (with Donald Hardesty) of Assessing Site Significance (AltaMira 2000), among other publications.