By Clive Gamble
From archaeological jargon to interpretation, Archaeology: The Basics presents a useful evaluation of a desirable topic and probes the depths of this more and more renowned self-discipline, proposing serious ways to the certainty of our prior.
Lively and interesting, Archaeology: The Basics fires the archaeological mind's eye when tackling such questions as:
- What are the elemental innovations of archaeology?
- How and what can we learn about humans and gadgets from the past?
- What makes an excellent clarification in archaeology?
- Why dig here?
This final advisor for all new and would-be archaeologists, whether or not they are scholars or amateurs, will turn out a useful advent to this wonderfully infectious discipline.
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Additional info for Archaeology: The Basics
The basic ingredients required are social actors with intentions, who may or may not stand for more than themselves; conditions of action, acknowledged and unacknowledged; and consequences, intended and unintended. (Shennan 1993: 56, my emphasis) 41 ARCHAEOLOGY: THE BASICS The point about humans is that we negotiate what the social structure will be. It is not, and never has been, specific to our species. Therefore intent, while difficult to measure, is part of the explanation. Neo-Darwinism, if interpreted broadly, does allow those all-important processes that integrate the micro- and the macro-scale of human activity, such as individual and society, village and civilisation, a year and a millennium, to be explored.
Archaeologists now have wider responsibilities than making sure they die with no unpublished backlog. On the less positive side, what has interpretive archaeology really achieved apart from a critique and getting us to find out what other academic subjects have been doing? Feminist archaeology has gone further faster for the simple reason that its objectives and focus are much clearer. Marxist approaches have greater maturity and more to say about change. The excavations and analyses seem very similar to the demands of processual archaeology for sampling, quantification and explication of research designs (Chapter 3), which are the lasting inputs from processual archaeology.
We need to know how it was formed, what survives, and why, and how we can go from these inert observations in the present to the investigation of the once live action that produced the record in the past (see Chapter 3). Only with a better understanding of the archaeological record, and how we go about reanimating it, can we then return to the big questions with a better chance of getting an acceptable answer. 29 ARCHAEOLOGY: THE BASICS the static, dead facts we dig up and the invisible but once dynamic behaviour that created the patterns in the data that we study.
Archaeology: The Basics by Clive Gamble