Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
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In this revised and updated edition of Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction, Paul Bahn presents an engaging introduction and a superb overview of a field that embraces everything from the cave art of Lascaux to the great stone heads of Easter Island. This entertaining introduction reflects the enduring popularity of archaeology--a subject which appeals as a pastime, career, and academic discipline, encompasses the whole globe, and spans some 2.5 million years. From deserts to jungles, from deep caves to mountain tops, from pebble tools to satellite photographs, from excavation to abstract theory, archaeology interacts with nearly every other discipline in its attempts to reconstruct the past. In this new edition, Bahn brings his text completely up to date, including information about recent discoveries and interpretations in the field, and highlighting the impact of developments such as the potential use of DNA and stable isotopes in teeth, as well the effect technology and science are having on archaeological exploration, from nuclear imaging to GPS. Bahn also shows how archaeologists have contributed to some of the most prominent debates of our age, such as the role of climate change, the effects of rises in sea-level, and the possibility of global warming. This edition also includes updated suggestions for further reading.
occupied camps, together with smaller, more specialized activity areas such as kill or butchery sites, or work sites for making tools, often of stone. Depending on their surroundings, they live in cave entrances or rock shelters, or construct temporary shelters of organic materials such as wood, bone, or hides. The base-camps are generally more substantial than the temporary or specialized sites. This kind of settlement is associated with the Palaeolithic period of the Old World, and the
realistic. Even so, we will never manage to recreate the ‘real past’ which was inﬁnitely varied and complex. The best we can do is hope to elucidate some of the principal factors and inﬂuences at work, just as historians do. Cynics have argued that much theoretical archaeology simply consists of techniques to ﬁnd unsurprising answers to obvious questions which nobody had the time, tools, or inclination to ask before. Since much of this abstraction can never be applied to actual archaeological
rife; in Egypt, for example, the twelfth-century bc pharaohs had to appoint a commission to inquire into the wholesale plundering of tombs in the Theban valley. Of the ordinary rock-cut tombs of Egypt, 99 per cent were looted in antiquity, and we are left with those whose contents were not worth the risk or the effort. Not a single royal tomb escaped completely, not even King Tut’s. In North America the phenomenon was under way in the time of the Pilgrims, who saw Indian grave goods as ‘rotting
vulnerable items such as rock art, inscriptions, and so forth. At the same time, new technology will come to play an increasingly important role: for example, in the recording of rock art, video cameras and computer enhancement are coming into frequent use, images will be stored using digitization, and the use of a new standardized scale (issued by IFRAO, the International Federation of Rock Art Organizations), which combines measurements with some basic colours, will enable the precise original
behaviour, and this was especially important in North America, in view of archaeology’s relationship there with sister disciplines. Anthropology simply means the study of humanity; in Britain it is divided into social (or cultural) anthropology, which analyses human culture and society; and physical (or biological) anthropology, which studies human physical characteristics and how they have evolved. In America, however, archaeology is also considered to be very much an integral part of