Using case studies from around the globe—including Mesoamerica, North and South America, Africa, China, and the Greco-Roman world—and across multiple time periods, the authors in this volume make the case that abundance provides an essential explanatory perspective on ancient peoples’ choices and activities. Economists frequently focus on scarcity as a driving principle in the development of social and economic hierarchies, yet focusing on plenitude enables the understanding of a range of cohesive behaviors that were equally important for the development of social complexity.
Our earliest human ancestors were highly mobile hunter-gatherers who sought out places that provided ample food, water, and raw materials. Over time, humans accumulated and displayed an increasing quantity and variety of goods. In households, shrines, tombs, caches, and dumps, archaeologists have discovered large masses of materials that were deliberately gathered, curated, distributed, and discarded by ancient peoples. The volume’s authors draw upon new economic theories to consider the social, ideological, and political implications of human engagement with abundant quantities of resources and physical objects and consider how individual and household engagements with material culture were conditioned by the quest for abundance.
Abundance shows that the human propensity for mass consumption is not just the result of modern production capacities but fulfills a longstanding focus on plenitude as both the assurance of well-being and a buffer against uncertainty. This book will be of great interest to scholars and students in economics, anthropology, and cultural studies.
Contributors: Traci Ardren, Amy Bogaard, Elizabeth Klarich, Abigail Levine, Christopher R. Moore, Tito E. Naranjo, Stacey Pierson, James M. Potter, François G. Richard, Christopher W. Schmidt, Carol Schultze, Payson Sheets, Monica L. Smith, Katheryn C. Twiss, Mark D. Varien, Justin St. P. Walsh, María Nieves Zedeño
Archaeological research is uniquely positioned to show how native history and native culture affected the course of colonial interaction, but to do so it must transcend colonialist ideas about Native American technological and social change. This book applies that insight to five hundred years of native history. Using data from a wide variety of geographical, temporal, and cultural settings, the contributors examine economic, social, and political stability and transformation in indigenous societies before and after the advent of Europeans and document the diversity of native colonial experiences. The book’s case studies range widely, from sixteenth-century Florida, to the Great Plains, to nineteenth-century coastal Alaska.
The contributors address a series of interlocking themes. Several consider the role of indigenous agency in the processes of colonial interaction, paying particular attention to gender and status. Others examine the ways long-standing native political economies affected, and were in turn affected by, colonial interaction. A third group explores colonial-period ethnogenesis, emphasizing the emergence of new native social identities and relations after 1500. The book also highlights tensions between the detailed study of local cases and the search for global processes, a recurrent theme in postcolonial research.
If archaeologists are to bridge the artificial divide separating history from prehistory, they must overturn a whole range of colonial ideas about American Indians and their history. This book shows that empirical archaeological research can help replace long-standing models of indigenous culture change rooted in colonialist narratives with more nuanced, multilinear models of change—and play a major role in decolonizing knowledge about native peoples.
From the Euphrates Valley to the southern Peruvian Andes, early complex societies have risen and fallen, but in some cases they have also been reborn. Prior archaeological investigation of these societies has focused primarily on emergence and collapse. This is the first book-length work to examine the question of how and why early complex urban societies have reappeared after periods of decentralization and collapse.
Ranging widely across the Near East, the Aegean, East Asia, Mesoamerica, and the Andes, these cross-cultural studies expand our understanding of social evolution by examining how societies were transformed during the period of radical change now termed “collapse.” They seek to discover how societal complexity reemerged, how second-generation states formed, and how these re-emergent states resembled or differed from the complex societies that preceded them.
The contributors draw on material culture as well as textual and ethnohistoric data to consider such factors as preexistent institutions, structures, and ideologies that are influential in regeneration; economic and political resilience; the role of social mobility, marginal groups, and peripheries; and ethnic change. In addition to presenting a number of theoretical viewpoints, the contributors also propose reasons why regeneration sometimes does not occur after collapse. A concluding contribution by Norman Yoffee provides a critical exegesis of “collapse” and highlights important patterns found in the case histories related to peripheral regions and secondary elites, and to the ideology of statecraft.
After Collapse blazes new research trails in both archaeology and the study of social change, demonstrating that the archaeological record often offers more clues to the “dark ages” that precede regeneration than do text-based studies. It opens up a new window on the past by shifting the focus away from the rise and fall of ancient civilizations to their often more telling fall and rise.
Arlen F. Chase
Diane Z. Chase
Christina A. Conlee
Timothy S. Hare
Alan L. Kolata
Marilyn A. Masson
Gordon F. McEwan
Carlos Peraza Lope
Miriam T. Stark
Jill A. Weber
Agency in Ancient Writing
Joshua Englehardt University Press of Colorado, 2012 Library of Congress P211.7.A44 2012 | Dewey Decimal 411.7
Individual agents are frequently evident in early writing and notational systems, yet these systems have rarely been subjected to the concept of agency as it is traceable in archeology. Agency in Ancient Writing addresses this oversight, allowing archeologists to identify and discuss real, observable actors and actions in the archaeological record.
Embracing myriad ways in which agency can be interpreted, ancient writing systems from Mesoamerica, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Crete, China, and Greece are examined from a textual perspective as both archaeological objects and nascent historical documents. This allows for distinction among intentions, consequences, meanings, and motivations, increasing understanding and aiding interpretation of the subjectivity of social actors. Chapters focusing on acts of writing and public recitation overlap with those addressing the materiality of texts, interweaving archaeology, epigraphy, and the study of visual symbol systems.
Agency in Ancient Writing leads to a more thorough and meaningful discussion of agency as an archaeological concept and will be of interest to anyone interested in ancient texts, including archaeologists, historians, linguists, epigraphers, and art historians, as well as scholars studying agency and structuration theory.
Alternative Pathways to Complexity focuses on the themes of architecture, economics, and power in the evolution of complex societies. Case studies from Mesoamerica, Asia, Africa, and Europe examine the relationship between political structures and economic configurations of ancient chiefdoms and states through a framework of comparative archaeology.
A group of highly distinguished scholars takes up important issues, theories, and methods stemming from the nascent body of research on comparative archaeology to showcase and apply important theories of households, power, and how the development of complex societies can be extended and refined. Drawing on the archaeological, ethnohistorical, and ethnographic records, the chapters in this volume contain critical investigations on the role of collective action, economics, and corporate cognitive codes in structuring complex societies.
Alternative Pathways to Complexity is an important addition to theoretical development and empirical research on Mesoamerica, the Old World, and cross-cultural studies. The theoretical implications addressed in the chapters will have broad appeal for scholars grappling with alternative pathways to complexity in other regions as well as those addressing diverse cross-cultural research.
Contributors: Sarah B. Barber, Cynthia L. Bedell, Christopher S. Beekman, Frances F. Berdan, Tim Earle, Carol R. Ember, Gary M. Feinman, Arthur A. Joyce, Stephen A. Kowalewski, Lisa J. LeCount, Linda M. Nicholas, Peter N. Peregrine, Peter Robertshaw, Barbara L. Stark, T. L. Thurston, Deborah Winslow, Rita Wright
In Ancient Households of the Americas archaeologists investigate the fundamental role of household production in ancient, colonial, and contemporary households.
Several different cultures-Iroquois, Coosa, Anasazi, Hohokam, San Agustín, Wankarani, Formative Gulf Coast Mexico, and Formative, Classic, Colonial, and contemporary Maya-are analyzed through the lens of household archaeology in concrete, data-driven case studies. The text is divided into three sections: Section I examines the spatial and social organization and context of household production; Section II looks at the role and results of households as primary producers; and Section III investigates the role of, and interplay among, households in their greater political and socioeconomic communities.
In the past few decades, household archaeology has made substantial contributions to our understanding and explanation of the past through the documentation of the household as a social unit-whether small or large, rural or urban, commoner or elite. These case studies from a broad swath of the Americas make Ancient Households of the Americas extremely valuable for continuing the comparative interdisciplinary study of households.
Mangroves and rice, six-row brittle barley and einkorn wheat. Ancient crops for prehistoric people. What do they have in common? All tell us about the lives and cultures of long ago, as humans cultivated or collected these plants for food. Exploring these and other important plants used for millennia by humans, Ancient Plants and People presents a wide-angle view of the current state of archaeobotanical research, methods, and theories.
Food has both a public and a private role, and it permeates the life of all people in a society. Food choice, production, and distribution probably represent the most complex indicators of social life, and thus a study of foods consumed by ancient peoples reveals many clues about their lifestyles. But in addition to yielding information about food production, distribution, preparation, and consumption, plant remains recovered from archaeological sites offer precious insights on past landscapes, human adaptation to climate change, and the relationship between human groups and their environment. Revealing important aspects of past human societies, these plant-driven insights widen the spectrum of information available to archaeologists as we seek to understand our history as a biological and cultural species.
Often answers raise more questions. As a result, archaeobotanists are constantly pushed to reflect on the methodological and theoretical aspects of their discipline. The contributors discuss timely methodological issues and engage in debates on a wide range of topics from plant utilization by hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists, to uses of ancient DNA. Ancient Plants and People provides a global perspective on archaeobotanical research, particularly on the sophisticated interplay between the use of plants and their social or environmental context.
Animals and Inequality in the Ancient World explores the current trends in the social archaeology of human-animal relationships, focusing on the ways in which animals are used to structure, create, support, and even deconstruct social inequalities.
The authors provide a global range of case studies from both New and Old World archaeology—a royal Aztec dog burial, the monumental horse tombs of Central Asia, and the ceremonial macaw cages of ancient Mexico among them. They explore the complex relationships between people and animals in social, economic, political, and ritual contexts, incorporating animal remains from archaeological sites with artifacts, texts, and iconography to develop their interpretations.
Animals and Inequality in the Ancient World presents new data and interpretations that reveal the role of animals, their products, and their symbolism in structuring social inequalities in the ancient world. The volume will be of interest to archaeologists, especially zooarchaeologists, and classical scholars of pre-modern civilizations and societies.
For centuries, the goal of archaeologists was to document and describe material artifacts, and at best to make inferences about the origins and evolution of human culture and about prehistoric and historic societies. During the 1960s, however, a number of young, primarily American archaeologists, including William Longacre, rebelled against this simplistic approach. Wanting to do more than just describe, Longacre and others believed that genuine explanations could be achieved by changing the direction, scope, and methodology of the field. What resulted was the New Archaeology, which blended scientific method and anthropology. It urged those working in the field to formulate hypotheses, derive conclusions deductively and, most important, to test them. While, over time the New Archaeology has had its critics, one point remains irrefutable: archaeology will never return to what has since been called its “state of innocence.”
In this collection of twelve new chapters, four generations of Longacre protégés show how they are building upon and developing but also modifying the theoretical paradigm that remains at the core of Americanist archaeology. The contributions focus on six themes prominent in Longacre’s career: the intellectual history of the field in the late twentieth century, archaeological methodology, analogical inference, ethnoarchaeology, cultural evolution, and reconstructing ancient society.
More than a comprehensive overview of the ideas developed by one of the most influential scholars in the field, however, Archaeological Anthropology makes stimulating contributions to contemporary research. The contributors do not unequivocally endorse Longacre’s ideas; they challenge them and expand beyond them, making this volume a fitting tribute to a man whose robust research and teaching career continues to resonate.
Ancient market activities are dynamic in the economies of most ancient states, yet they have received little research from the archaeological community. Archaeological Approaches to Market Exchange in Ancient Societies is the first book to address the development, change, and organizational complexity of ancient markets from a comparative archaeological perspective.
Drawing from historical documents and archaeological records from Mesoamerica, the U.S. Southwest, East Africa, and the Andes, this volume reveals the complexity of ancient marketplace development and economic behavior both in hierarchical and non-hierarchical societies. Highlighting four principal themes-the defining characteristics of market exchange; the recognition of market exchange archaeologically; the relationship among market, political, and other social institutions; and the conditions in which market systems develop and change-the book contains a strong methodological and theoretical focus on market exchange.
Diverse contributions from noted scholars show the history of market exchange and other activities to be more dynamic than scholars previously appreciated. Archaeological Approaches to Market Exchange in Ancient Societies will be of interest to archaeologists, anthropologists, material-culture theorists, economists, and historians.
Archaeological Landscapes on the High Plains combines history, anthropology, archaeology, and geography to take a closer look at the relationships between land and people in this unique North American region.
Focusing on long-term change, this book considers ethnographic literature, archaeological evidence, and environmental data spanning thousands of years of human presence to understand human perception and construction of landscape. The contributors offer cohesive and synthetic studies emphasizing hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers.
Using landscape as both reality and metaphor, Archaeological Landscapes on the High Plains explores the different and changing ways that people interacted with place in this transitional zone between the Rocky Mountains and the eastern prairies.
The contemporary archaeologists working in this small area have chosen diverse approaches to understand the past and its relationship to the present. Through these ten case studies, this variety is highlighted but leads to a common theme - that the High Plains contains important locales to which people, over generations or millennia, return. Providing both data and theory on a region that has not previously received much attention from archaeologists, especially compared with other regions in North America, this volume is a welcome addition to the literature. Contributors:
o Paul Burnett
o Oskar Burger
o Minette C. Church
o Philip Duke
o Kevin Gilmore
o Eileen Johnson
o Mark D. Mitchell
o Michael R. Peterson
o Lawrence Todd
In the last four decades, southeastern archaeology has increasingly developed a processual method of looking at archaeological data through varying levels of scale. By adjusting the scale, archaeologists can further define societal interactions and exchanges, which is particularly useful to those researching the Mississippian period, as the rise and fall of chiefdoms was both internally complex and externally influenced by broader regional factors. This use of the most current research methods has enabled a more comprehensive understanding of prehistoric and historic sociopolitical entities.
In Archaeological Perspectives of the Southern Appalachians, Ramie A. Gougeon and Maureen S. Meyers have brought together a dozen archaeologists to delineate multiscalar approaches to Native American sites throughout southern Appalachia. The essays range in topic from ceramic assemblages in northern Georgia to public architecture in North Carolina to the frontiers of southern Appalachia in Virginia. Throughout the volume, the contributors discuss varying scales of analysis in their own research to flesh out the importance of maintaining different perspectives when evaluating archaeological evidence.
Additionally, the volume makes particular reference to the work of David Hally, whose influence on not only the editors and contributors but on southeastern archaeology as a whole cannot be overstated. While Hally was neither a pioneer nor vocal champion of scale variation, his impeccable research, culminating with the publication of his magnum opus King: The Social Archaeology of a Late Mississippian Town in Northwestern Georgia paved the way for younger scholars to truly develop research methods for holistic social archaeology.
Ramie A. Gougeon is an assistant professor with the Division of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of West Florida. He has contributed chapters to Architectural Variability in the Southeast and Ancient Households of the Americas.
Maureen S. Meyers is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Mississippi. Her articles have appeared in Southeastern Archaeology, Native South, and the anthology Mapping the Mississippian Shatter Zone.
Analyses of big datasets signal important directions for the archaeology of religion in the Archaic to Mississippian Native North America
Across North America, huge data accumulations derived from decades of cultural resource management studies, combined with old museum collections, provide archaeologists with unparalleled opportunities to explore new questions about the lives of ancient native peoples. For many years the topics of technology, economy, and political organization have received the most research attention, while ritual, religion, and symbolic expression have largely been ignored. This was often the case because researchers considered such topics beyond reach of their methods and data.
In Archaeology and Ancient Religion in the American Midcontinent, editors Brad H. Koldehoff and Timothy R. Pauketat and their contributors demonstrate that this notion is outdated through their analyses of a series of large datasets from the midcontinent, ranging from tiny charred seeds to the cosmic alignments of mounds, they consider new questions about the religious practices and lives of native peoples. At the core of this volume are case studies that explore religious practices from the Cahokia area and surrounding Illinois uplands. Additional chapters explore these topics using data collected from sites and landscapes scattered along the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys.
This innovative work facilitates a greater appreciation for, and understanding of, ancient native religious practices, especially their seamless connections to everyday life and livelihood. The contributors do not advocate for a reduced emphasis on technology, economy, and political organization; rather, they recommend expanding the scope of such studies to include considerations of how religious practices shaped the locations of sites, the character of artifacts, and the content and arrangement of sites and features. They also highlight analytical approaches that are applicable to archaeological datasets from across the Americas and beyond.
Archaeologists study a wide array of material remains to propose conclusions about non-material aspects of culture. The intricacies of these findings have increased over recent decades, but only limited attention has been paid to what the archaeological record can tell us about the transfer of cultural knowledge through apprenticeship.
Apprenticeship is broadly defined as the transmission of culture through a formal or informal teacher–pupil relationship. This collection invites a wide discussion, citing case studies from all over the world and yet focuses the scholarship into a concise set of contributions. The chapters in this volume demonstrate how archaeology can benefit greatly from the understanding of the social dimensions of knowledge transfer. This book also examines apprenticeship in archaeology against a backdrop of sociological and cognitive psychology literature, to enrich the understanding of the relationship between material remains and enculturation.
Each of the authors in this collection looks specifically at how material remains can reveal several specific aspects of ancient cultures: What is the human potential for learning? How do people learn? Who is teaching? Why are they learning? What are the results of such learning? How do we recognize knowledge transfer in the archaeological record? These fundamental questions are featured in various forms in all chapters of the book. With case studies from the American Southwest, Alaska, Egypt, Ancient Greece, and Mesopotamia, this book will have broad appeal for scholars—particularly those concerned with cultural transmission and traditions of learning and education—all over the world.
Archaeology at El Perú-Waka’ is the first book to summarize long-term research at this major Maya site. The results of fieldwork and subsequent analyses conducted by members of the El Perú-Waka’ Regional Archaeological Project are coupled with theoretical approaches treating the topics of ritual, memory, and power as deciphered through material remains discovered at Waka’. The book is site-centered, yet the fifteen wide-ranging contributions offer readers greater insight to the richness and complexity of Classic-period Maya culture, as well as to the ways in which archaeologists believe ancient peoples negotiated their ritual lives and comprehended their own pasts.
El Perú-Waka’ is an ancient Maya city located in present-day northwestern Petén, Guatemala. Rediscovered by petroleum exploration workers in the mid-1960s, it is the largest known archaeological site in the Laguna del Tigre National Park in Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve. The El Perú-Waka’ Regional Archaeological Project initiated scientific investigations in 2003, and through excavation and survey, researchers established that Waka’ was a key political and economic center well integrated into Classic-period lowland Maya civilization, and reconstructed many aspects of Maya life and ritual activity in this ancient community. The research detailed in this volume provides a wealth of new, substantive, and scientifically excavated data, which contributors approach with fresh theoretical insights. In the process, they lay out sound strategies for understanding the ritual manipulation of monuments, landscapes, buildings, objects, and memories, as well as related topics encompassing the performance and negotiation of power throughout the city’s extensive sociopolitical history.
Water management, soil conservation, sustainable animal husbandry . . . because such socio-environmental challenges have been faced throughout history, lessons from the past can often inform modern policy. In this book, case studies from a wide range of times and places reveal how archaeology can contribute to a better understanding of humans' relation to the environment.
The Archaeology of Environmental Change shows that the challenges facing humanity today, in terms of causing and reacting to environmental change, can be better approached through an attempt to understand how societies in the past dealt with similar circumstances. The contributors draw on archaeological research in multiple regions—North America, Mesoamerica, Europe, the Near East, and Africa—from time periods spanning the Holocene, and from environments ranging from tropical forest to desert.
Through such examples as environmental degradation in Transjordan, wildlife management in East Africa, and soil conservation among the ancient Maya, they demonstrate the negative effects humans have had on their environments and how societies in the past dealt with these same problems. All call into question and ultimately refute popular notions of a simple cause-and-effect relationship between people and their environment, and reject the notion of people as either hapless victims of unstoppable forces or inevitable destroyers of natural harmony.
These contributions show that by examining long-term trajectories of socio-natural relationships we can better define concepts such as sustainability, land degradation, and conservation—and that gaining a more accurate and complete understanding of these connections is essential for evaluating current theories and models of environmental degradation and conservation. Their insights demonstrate that to understand the present environment and to manage landscapes for the future, we must consider the historical record of the total sweep of anthropogenic environmental change.
The first work to apply an events-based approach to the analysis of pivotal developments in the pre-Columbian Southeast
Across the social sciences, gradualist evolutionary models of historical dynamics are giving way to explanations focused on the punctuated and contingent “events” through which history is actually experienced. The Archaeology of Events is the first book-length work that systematically applies this new eventful approach to major developments in the pre-Columbian Southeast.
Traditional accounts of pre-Columbian societies often portray them as “cold” and unchanging for centuries or millennia. Events-based analyses have opened up archaeological discourse to the more nuanced and flexible idea of context-specific, rapidly transpiring, and broadly consequential historical “events” as catalysts of cultural change.
The Archaeology of Events, edited by Zackary I. Gilmore and Jason M. O’Donoughue, considers a variety of perspectives on the nature and scale of events and their role in historical change. These perspectives are applied to a broad range of archeological contexts stretching across the Southeast and spanning more than 7,000 years of the region’s pre-Columbian history. New data suggest that several of this region’s most pivotal historical developments, such as the founding of Cahokia, the transformation of Moundville from urban center to vacated necropolis, and the construction of Poverty Point’s Mound A, were not protracted incremental processes, but rather watershed moments that significantly altered the long-term trajectories of indigenous Southeastern societies.
In addition to exceptional occurrences that impacted entire communities or peoples, southeastern archaeologists are increasingly recognizing the historical importance of localized, everyday events, such as building a house, crafting a pot, or depositing shell. The essays collected by Gilmore and O’Donoughue show that small-scale events can make significant contributions to the unfolding of broad, regional-scale historical processes and to the reproduction or transformation of social structures.
The Archaeology of Events is the first volume to explore the archaeological record of events in the Southeastern United States, the methodologies that archaeologists bring to bear on this kind of research, and considerations of the event as an important theoretical concept.
Defines household composition and social relationships at Moundville
Complex Mississippian polities were neither developed nor sustained in a vacuum. A broad range of small-scale social groups played a variety of roles in the emergence of regionally organized political hierarchies that governed large-scale ceremonial centers. Recent research has revealed the extent to which interactions among corporately organized clans led to the development, success, and collapse of Moundville. These insights into Moundville’s social complexity are based primarily on the study of monumental architecture and mortuary ceremonialism. Less is known about how everyday domestic practices produced and were produced by broader networks of power and inequality in the region.
Wilson’s research addresses this gap in our understanding by analyzing and interpreting large-scale architectural and ceramic data sets from domestic contexts. This study has revealed that the early Mississippian Moundville community consisted of numerous spatially discrete multi-household groups, similar to ethnohistorically described kin groups from the southeastern United States. Hosting feasts, dances, and other ceremonial events were important strategies by which elite groups created social debts and legitimized their positions of authority. Non-elite groups, on the other hand, maintained considerable economic and ritual autonomy through diversified production activities, risk sharing, and household ceremonialism. Organizational changes in Moundville’s residential occupation highlight the different ways kin groups defined and redefined their corporate status and identities over the long term.
Alandmark work that will instigate vigorous and wide-ranging discussions on institutions in Western life, and the power of material culture to both enforce and negate cultural norms
Institutions pervade social life. They express community goals and values by defining the limits of socially acceptable behavior. Institutions are often vested with the resources, authority, and power to enforce the orthodoxy of their time. But institutions are also arenas in which both orthodoxies and authority can be contested. Between power and opposition lies the individual experience of the institutionalized. Whether in a boarding school, hospital, prison, almshouse, commune, or asylum, their experiences can reflect the positive impact of an institution or its greatest failings. This interplay of orthodoxy, authority, opposition, and individual experience are all expressed in the materiality of institutions and are eminently subject to archaeological investigation.
A few archaeological and historical publications, in widely scattered venues, have examined individual institutional sites. Each work focused on the development of a specific establishment within its narrowly defined historical context; e.g., a fort and its role in a particular war, a schoolhouse viewed in terms of the educational history of its region, an asylum or prison seen as an expression of the prevailing attitudes toward the mentally ill and sociopaths. In contrast, this volume brings together twelve contributors whose research on a broad range of social institutions taken in tandem now illuminates the experience of these institutions. Rather than a culmination of research on institutions, it is a landmark work that will instigate vigorous and wide-ranging discussions on institutions in Western life, and the power of material culture to both enforce and negate cultural norms.
Archaeology has been subjected to a wide range of misunderstandings of kinship theory and many of its central concepts. Demonstrating that kinship is the foundation for past societies’ social organization, particularly in non-state societies, Bradley E. Ensor offers a lucid presentation of kinship principles and theories accessible to a broad audience. He provides not only descriptions of what the principles entail but also an understanding of their relevance to past and present topics of interest to archaeologists. His overall goal is always clear: to illustrate how kinship analysis can advance archaeological interpretation and how archaeology can advance kinship theory.
The Archaeology of Kinship supports Ensor’s objectives: to demonstrate the relevance of kinship to major archaeological questions, to describe archaeological methods for kinship analysis independent of ethnological interpretation, to illustrate the use of those techniques with a case study, and to provide specific examples of how diachronic analyses address broader theory. As Ensor shows, archaeological diachronic analyses of kinship are independently possible, necessary, and capable of providing new insights into past cultures and broader anthropological theory. Although it is an old subject in anthropology, The Archaeology of Kinship can offer new and exciting frontiers for inquiry.
Kinship research in general—and prehistoric kinship in particular—is rapidly reemerging as a topical subject in anthropology. This book is a timely archaeological contribution to that growing literature otherwise dominated by ethnology.
In the broadest sense this book is concerned with describing and explaining how particular places contain the key elements necessary for understanding the social worlds constructed, maintained, and modified by those who once inhabited them. This is achieved through the investigation of biographical, topographic, geopolitical, ideological, cosmological, and mnemonic facets of place, beginning with processes of place making and continuing with the development of networks among and between places and broader landscapes.
Diverse spatial and temporal contexts in two culture areas--Mesoamerica and the Greater Southwest--serve as backdrops for nine chapters in which fourteen contributors show how place is an ideal starting point to begin unraveling the human past. Several authors further address the enduring significance of places of the past for contemporary peoples. Among the many strengths of this volume is the careful way in which powerful concepts, diverse lines of thought, and empirical models are integrated to reveal the multiple facets of meaningful places, and to illustrate ways in which places may be approached archaeologically, theoretically, and culturally. Ultimately, the book’s contributors champion the notion that place is a valid and useful analytical unit for describing, reconstructing, interpreting, and explaining the form, structure, and temporality of the meanings humans ascribe to their environment.
Plantation sites, especially those in the southeastern United States, have long dominated the archaeological study of slavery. These antebellum estates, however, are not representative of the range of geographic locations and time periods in which slavery has occurred. As archaeologists have begun to investigate slavery in more diverse settings, the need for a broader interpretive framework is now clear.
The Archaeology of Slavery: A Comparative Approach to Captivity and Coercion, edited by Lydia Wilson Marshall, develops an interregional and cross-temporal framework for the interpretation of slavery. Contributors consider how to define slavery, identify it in the archaeological record, and study it as a diachronic process from enslavement to emancipation and beyond.
Essays cover the potential material representations of slavery, slave owners’ strategies of coercion and enslaved people’s methods of resisting this coercion, and the legacies of slavery as confronted by formerly enslaved people and their descendants. Among the peoples, sites, and periods examined are a late nineteenth-century Chinese laborer population in Carlin, Nevada; a castle slave habitation at San Domingo and a more elite trading center at nearby Juffure in the Gambia; two eighteenth-century plantations in Dominica; Benin’s Hueda Kingdom in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; plantations in Zanzibar; and three fugitive slave sites on Mauritius—an underground lava tunnel, a mountain, and a karst cave.
This essay collection seeks to analyze slavery as a process organized by larger economic and social forces with effects that can be both durable and wide-ranging. It presents a comparative approach that significantly enriches our understanding of slavery.
Brings together nine Moundville specialists who trace the site’s evolution and eventual decline
Built on a ?at terrace overlooking the Black Warrior River in Alabama, the Moundville ceremonial center was at its height a densely occupied town of approximately 1,000 residents, with at least 29 earthen mounds surrounding a central plaza. Today Moundville is not only one of the largest and best-preserved Mississippian sites in the United States but also one of the most intensively studied. This volume brings together nine Moundville specialists who trace the site’s evolution and eventual decline.
What is the social value of archaeological research to present-day society? Michael Schiffer answers this question with forty-two case studies from a global perspective to demonstrate archaeology’s diverse scientific and humanistic contributions. Drawing on nearly five decades of research, he delivers fascinating yet nontechnical discussions that provide a deeper understanding of what archaeologists do and why they do it.
From reconstructing human evolution and behavior in prehistoric times to providing evidence that complements recorded history or debunks common legends, archaeologists help us understand our human past. They have also played crucial roles in developing techniques essential for the investigation of climate change along with tools for environmental reconstruction. Working for cities, tribes, and federal agencies, archaeologists manage cultural resources and testify in court. In forensic contexts, archaeological expertise enables the gathering of critical evidence. With engaging and lively prose, Archaeology’s Footprints brings to life a full panorama of contributions that have had an impact on modern society.