Archaeologies of Complexity

Archaeologies of Complexity

Archaeologies of Complexity

Archaeologies of Complexity

Synopsis

An up-to-date and critical analysis of how archaeologists study past societies, Archaeologies of Complexity addresses the nature of contemporary archaeology and the study of social change, and debates the transition from perceived simple, egalitarian societies to the complex power structures and divisions of our modern world.Since the eighteenth century, archaeologists have examined complexity in terms of successive types of societies, from early bands, tribes and chiefdoms to states; through stages of social evolution, including 'savagery', 'barbarism' and 'civilisation', to the present state of complexity and inequality.Presenting a radical, alternative view of ancient state societies, the book explains the often ambiguous terms of 'complexity', 'hierarchy' and inequality' and provides a critical account of the Anglo-American research of the last forty years which has heavily influenced the subject.

Excerpt

This book addresses two main themes, the nature of contemporary archaeology and the study of social change, especially towards what is called increasing complexity. It stems from the experiences of teaching archaeology in my own country and practising archaeological research in another one. the effect of these combined experiences has been to make me think about (a) the nature of archaeological theory and its relation to practice, (b) the relevance of what I do as an archaeologist to the contemporary world, and (c) how we approach the study of past societies. Although the case study is taken from the west Mediterranean, I have tried to make clear the implications for specialists in other areas and periods. I have also adopted a style that I hope makes the book easily accessible to students who want to learn about archaeological theory and social change in an historical context. in this way, I aim to encourage a greater awareness of the more complex ways in which these subjects have been studied during the last four decades, and to escape from the ‘linear evolution’ model of paradigm change that has dominated archaeology. in addition, I add my voice to those who encourage a more even engagement between the Anglo-American world and ‘other’ archaeologies, especially those of countries in which we may practise our archaeology. the result is, I hope, both interesting and challenging to the reader.

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