Symbols in Action

Author: Ian Hodder
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 0521241766
Release Date: 1982-01-14
Genre: Social Science

Material culture - the objects made by man - provides the primary data from which archaeologists have to infer the economies, technologies, social organization and ritual practices of extinct societies. The analysis and interpretation ofmaterial culture is therefore central to any concern with archaeological theory and methodology, and in order to understand better the relationship between material culture and human behaviour, archaeologists need to draw upon models derived from the study of ethnographic societies. First published in 1982, this book presents the results of a series of field investigations carried out in Kenya, Zambia and the Sudan into the 'archaeological' remains and material culture of contemporary small-scale societies, and demonstrates the way in which objects are used as symbols within social action and within particular world views and ideologies.

The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies

Author: Dan Hicks
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 9780199218714
Release Date: 2010-09-02
Genre: Social Science

Written by an international team of experts, the Handbook makes accessible a full range of theoretical and applied approaches to the study of material culture, and the place of materiality in social theory, presenting current thinking about material culture from the fields of archaeology, anthropology, geography, and science and technology studies.

Symbolic and Structural Archaeology

Author: Ian Hodder
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9780521035507
Release Date: 2006
Genre: Social Science

This volume presents a searching critique of the more traditional archaeological methodologies and interpretation strategies and lays down a firm philosophical and theoretical basis for symbolist and structuralist studies in archaeology. A variety of procedures, ranging from ethnoarchaeological studies and computing techniques to formal studies of artefact design variability, are utilized to provide models for archaeologists within the proposed framework and the theory and models are then applied to a range of archaeological analyses. This particular approach sees all human actions as being meaningfully constituted within a social and cultural framework. Material culture is not simply an adaptive tool, but is structured according to sets of underlying principles which give meaning to, and derive meanings from, the social world. Thus structural regularities are shown to link seemingly disparate aspects of material culture, from funerary monuments to artefact design, from the use of space in settlements, to the form of economic practices.

Symbols of Excellence

Author: Grahame Clark
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 0521302641
Release Date: 1986-04-24
Genre: Social Science

Pithily written, rich in anecdote and superbly illustrated with examples of ancient craftsmanship, this book by an archaeologist of world renown ranges freely over the civilisations of the last five thousand years. The theme is a fascinating one. Why is it, Professor Clark asks, that human beings value precious metals, gems and a few organic materials like ivory and pearls so highly? All are difficult to obtain and largely useless for practical purposes. Yet the prestige associated with possession down the ages is undoubted. Position, sanctity and - by extension - the social and political hierarchies of entire societies have become embodied in these materials. Though first exploited to the full in the service of early cults and rulers, their appreciation has survived social change, and personal jewellery and insignia of rank are today more common than ever before. The reasons why are authoritatively explored in a remarkable book.

In Defense of Things

Author: Bjørnar Olsen
Publisher: Rowman Altamira
ISBN: 0759119325
Release Date: 2010-07-16
Genre: Philosophy

This important work of archaeological theory challenges us to reconsider our ideas about the nature of things, past and present, arguing that objects themselves possess a dynamic presence that we must take into account if we are to understand the world we and they inhabit.

Pattern of the Past

Author: David L. Clarke
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 0521227631
Release Date: 1981-01-29
Genre: Social Science

The book will be of importance for archaeologists and of interest to anthropologists.

The Archaeology of Contextual Meanings

Author: Ian Hodder
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 0521329248
Release Date: 1987-08-06
Genre: Social Science

This companion volume to Archaeology as Long-term History focuses on the symbolism of artefacts. It seeks at once to refine the theory and method relating to interpretation and show, with examples, how to conduct this sort of archaeological work. Some contributors work with the material culture of modern times or the historic period, areas in which the symbolism of mute artefacts has traditionally been thought most accessible. However, the book also contains a good number of applications in prehistory to demonstrate the feasibility of symbolic interpretation where good contextual data survive from the distant past. In relation to wider debates within the social sciences, the volume is characterised by a concern to place abstract symbolic codes within their historical context and within the contexts of social actions. In this respect, it develops further some of the ideas presented in Dr Hodder's Symbolic and Structural Archaeology, an earlier volume in this series.

The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Death and Burial

Author: Sarah Tarlow
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 9780191650390
Release Date: 2013-06-06
Genre: Social Science

The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Death and Burial reviews the current state of mortuary archaeology and its practice, highlighting its often contentious place in the modern socio-politics of archaeology. It contains forty-four chapters which focus on the history of the discipline and its current scientific techniques and methods. Written by leading, international scholars in the field, it derives its examples and case studies from a wide range of time periods, such as the middle palaeolithic to the twentieth century, and geographical areas which include Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia. Combining up-to-date knowledge of relevant archaeological research with critical assessments of the theme and an evaluation of future research trajectories, it draws attention to the social, symbolic, and theoretical aspects of interpreting mortuary archaeology. The volume is well-illustrated with maps, plans, photographs, and illustrations and is ideally suited for students and researchers.

Materiality and Social Practice

Author: Joseph Maran
Publisher: Oxbow Books Limited
ISBN: 1782975411
Release Date: 2014-01-31
Genre: History

Materiality and Social Practice investigates the transformative potential arising from the interplay between material forms, social practices and intercultural relations. Such a focus necessitates an approach that takes a transcultural perspective as a fundamental methodology and, then a broader understanding of the inter-relationship between humans and objects. Adopting a transcultural approach forces us to change archaeology's approach towards items coming from the outside. By using them mostly for reconstructing systems of exchange or for chronology, archaeology has for a long time reduced them to their properties as objects and as being foreign. This volume explores the notion that the significance of such items does not derive from the transfer from one place to another as such but, rather, from the ways in which they were used and contextualised. The main question is how, through their integration into discourses and practices, new frameworks of meaning were created conforming neither with what had existed in the receiving society nor in the area of origin of the objects.

The Intangible Elements of Culture in Ethnoarchaeological Research

Author: Stefano Biagetti
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 9783319231532
Release Date: 2016-06-02
Genre: Social Science

This volume focuses on the intangible elements of human cultures, whose relevance in the study of archaeology has often been claimed but rarely practiced. In this book, the authors successfully show how the adoption of ethnoarchaeological perspectives on non-material aspects of cultures can support the development of methodologies aimed at refining the archaeological interpretation of ancient items, technologies, rituals, settlements and even landscape. The volume includes a series of new approaches that can foster the dialogue between archaeology and anthropology in the domain of the intangible knowledge of rural and urban communities. The role of ethnoarchaeology in the study of the intangible heritage is so far largely underexplored, and there is a considerable lack of ethnoarchaeological studies explicitly focused on the less tangible evidence of present and past societies. Fresh case studies will revitalize the theoretical debate around ethnoarchaeology and its applicability in the archaeological and heritage research in the new millennium. Over the past decade, ‘intangible’ has become a key word in anthropological research and in heritage management. Archaeological theories and methods regarding the explorations of the meaning and the significance of artifacts, resources, and settlement patterns are increasingly focusing on non-material evidence. Due to its peculiar characteristics, ethnoarchaeology can effectively foster the development of the study of the intangible cultural heritage of living societies, and highlight its relevance to the study of those of the past.

Handbook of Material Culture

Author: Chris Tilley
Publisher: SAGE
ISBN: 9781446206430
Release Date: 2006-01-05
Genre: Social Science

The study of material culture is concerned with the relationship between persons and things in the past and in the present, in urban and industrialized and in small-scale societies across the globe. The Handbook of Material Culture provides a critical survey of the theories, concepts, intellectual debates, substantive domains and traditions of study characterizing the analysis of things. It is cutting-edge: rather than simply reviewing the field as it currently exists. It also attempts to chart the future: the manner in which material culture studies may be extended and developed. The Handbook of Material Culture is divided into five sections. • Section I maps material culture studies as a theoretical and conceptual field. • Section II examines the relationship between material forms, the human body and the senses. • Section III focuses on subject-object relations. • Section IV considers things in terms of processes and transformations in terms of production, exchange and consumption, performance and the significance of things over the long-term. • Section V considers the contemporary politics and poetics of displaying, representing and conserving material and the manner in which this impacts on notions of heritage, tradition and identity. The Handbook charts an interdisciplinary field of studies that makes an unique and fundamental contribution to an understanding of what it means to be human. It will be of interest to all who work in the social and historical sciences, from anthropologists and archaeologists to human geographers to scholars working in heritage, design and cultural studies.

Critically Reading the Theory and Methods of Archaeology

Author: Guy Gibbon
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 9780759123427
Release Date: 2013-09-12
Genre: Social Science

Critically Reading the Theory and Methods of Archaeology stands out as the most thorough and practical guide to the essential critical reading and writing skills that all students, instructors, and practitioners should have. It provides priceless insight for the here and now of the Theory and Methods of Archaeology classes and for a lifetime of reading, learning, teaching, and writing. Chapters focus on rigorous reasoning skills, types of argument, the main research orientations in archaeology, the basic procedural framework that underlies all schools of archaeology, and issues in archaeology raised by skeptical postmodernists.

The Body as Material Culture

Author: Joanna R. Sofaer
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9781316584095
Release Date: 2006-02-16
Genre: Social Science

Bodies intrigue us. They promise windows into the past that other archaeological finds cannot by bringing us literally face to face with history. Yet 'the body' is also highly contested. Archaeological bodies are studied through two contrasting perspectives that sit on different sides of a disciplinary divide. On one hand lie science-based osteoarchaeological approaches. On the other lie understandings derived from recent developments in social theory that increasingly view the body as a social construction. Through a close examination of disciplinary practice, Joanna Sofaer highlights the tensions and possibilities offered by one particular kind of archaeological body, the human skeleton, with particular regard to the study of gender and age. Using a range of examples, she argues for reassessment of the role of the skeletal body in archaeological practice, and develops a theoretical framework for bioarchaeology based on the materiality and historicity of human remains.

The Oxford Handbook of African Archaeology

Author: Peter Mitchell
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 9780191626159
Release Date: 2013-07-04
Genre: Social Science

Africa has the longest and arguably the most diverse archaeological record of any of the continents. It is where the human lineage first evolved and from where Homo sapiens spread across the rest of the world. Later, it witnessed novel experiments in food-production and unique trajectories to urbanism and the organisation of large communities that were not always structured along strictly hierarchical lines. Millennia of engagement with societies in other parts of the world confirm Africa's active participation in the construction of the modern world, while the richness of its history, ethnography, and linguistics provide unusually powerful opportunities for constructing interdisciplinary narratives of Africa's past. This Handbook provides a comprehensive and up-to-date synthesis of African archaeology, covering the entirety of the continent's past from the beginnings of human evolution to the archaeological legacy of European colonialism. As well as covering almost all periods and regions of the continent, it includes a mixture of key methodological and theoretical issues and debates, and situates the subject's contemporary practice within the discipline's history and the infrastructural challenges now facing its practitioners. Bringing together essays on all these themes from over seventy contributors, many of them living and working in Africa, it offers a highly accessible, contemporary account of the subject for use by scholars and students of not only archaeology, but also history, anthropology, and other disciplines.