Reading the Past: Current Approaches to Interpretation in Archaeology
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The third edition of this classic introduction to archaeological theory and method has been fully updated to address the rapid development of theoretical debate throughout the discipline. Ian Hodder and Scott Hutson argue that archaeologists must consider a variety of perspectives in the complex and uncertain task of "translating the meaning of past texts into their own contemporary language". While remaining centered on the importance of meaning, agency and history, the authors explore the latest developments in post-structuralism, neo-evolutionary theory and phenomenology. Previous Edition Hb (1991): 0-521-40142-9 Previous Edition Pb (1991): 0-521-40957-8
205–19 1987, ‘Contextual Archaeology’, Antiquity 61, 468–73 1988, ‘Food, Gender and Metal: Questions of Social Reproduction’, in M. L. Sørensen and R. Thomas (eds.), The Transition from Bronze Age to Iron Age in Europe, Oxford: British Archaeological Reports 1994, Fragments from Antiquity: An Archaeology of Social Life in Britain, 2900–1200 B. C., Oxford: Blackwell 2000, ‘A Thesis on Agency’, in Marcia-Anne Dobres and John Robb (eds.), Agency in Archaeology, London: Routledge and Kinnes, I.
predictable relationships between economy and society: for example Hodder suggested (1979) that material culture boundaries are more marked where there is increased negative reciprocity between groups. In the same vein Wobst suggests in relation to Yugoslavian folk costume that ‘in areas of strong inter-group competition one would expect a higher proportion of people wearing hats that signal group affiliation than in areas with relatively stable homogeneous populations’ (p. 333). Flannery and
studies profiled above for developing robust approaches to power relations in the past. Nevertheless, we fear that domination and resistance can be ‘bad subjects’ (Hutson 2002a; Meskell 1996) if they come at the expense of the balance and rigour of a more nuanced approach (Brown 1996). Politics are often multidimensional: an approach that views them through the binary lens of domination and resistance unjustly simplifies and sanitises their coarse texture (Ortner 1995). As Shackel admits,
particular other worlds, coherent only to themselves? In the discussion of contextual archaeology in chapter 8 we have attempted to demonstrate that increasingly plausible approximations to this ‘otherness’, in all its particularity, can be achieved. This is ultimately because historical meanings, however ‘other’ and coherent to themselves, are nevertheless real, producing real effects in the material world, and they are coherent, and thereby structured and systematic. In relation to the real,
grip of all closed systems of thought; it is conceived as a contribution to the undermining of all beliefs that claim completeness and encourage an unreflected affirmation of society’ (Held 1980, p. 150). Following Hegel, the Enlightenment is seen as the rise of universal science in which the control of nature and human beings is the main aim. Within positivism, the world was seen as made up of material things which could be commanded and ordered according to universal laws, and the laws of