Milestones in Archaeology: A Chronological Encyclopedia

Milestones in Archaeology: A Chronological Encyclopedia

Milestones in Archaeology: A Chronological Encyclopedia

Milestones in Archaeology: A Chronological Encyclopedia

Synopsis

Treasures, temples and tombs; pyramids, pots, and projectile points - the stuff of archaeology has captured people's imagination since the first digs in the 16th century. Although humans have always been fascinated with the past, the formal discipline of archaeology has existed for only 500 years. This book details the surprisingly controversial course of those five centuries.

The history of archaeology leads from the musty collections of dilettante antiquarians to high-tech science. The book identifies three major developmental periods - Birth of Archaeology (16th-18th centuries), Archaeology of Origins and Empires (19th century), and World Archaeology (20th century). An introductory essay acquaints the reader with the essence of the science for each period. The short entries comprising the balance of the book expand on the themes introduced in the essays.

Organized around personalities, techniques, controversies, and conflicts, the encyclopedia brings to life the history of archaeology. It broadens the general reader's knowledge by detailing the professional significance of widely known discoveries while introducing to wider knowledge obscure but important moments in archaeology. Archaeology is replete with the visionaries and swashbucklers of popular myth; it is also filled with careful and dedicated scientists.

Excerpt

This book presents a new approach to writing the history of archaeology and, as such, it is very much a product of an earlier project, Encyclopedia of Archaeology (1999–2001), which was also published by ABC-CLIO. Having said this, I have to admit (not without some irony) that Milestones was commissioned before the five-volume encyclopedia that precedes it. This reversal of sequence has had a significant impact on the shape and content of Milestones, which is now considerably changed from my original conception. There are several obvious reasons for this, the most important being that my own knowledge and understanding of the history of archaeology was transformed by the contributions to the Encyclopedia and from the rapid growth of research in this field that has occurred over the past few years. The opportunity to contemplate the history of archaeology on a global scale has, as I observed in the introduction to volumes 3, 4, and 5 (History and Discoveries) brought home the commonalities as well as the differences in the practice of archaeology around the world.

Another important reason why Milestones has changed from what was originally envisaged has more to do with a desire to explore different ways of writing the history of archaeology. In the Encyclopedia project I was able to develop a mix of longer biographical essays and shorter pieces dealing with specific countries, sites, or discoveries. Although some synthetic and general survey entries were included (not least some methodological reflections about writing the history of archaeology), the thrust of the volumes was very much directed toward documenting the origins and growth of archaeology on a global scale. In Milestones my goal has changed to one of sharpening this contrast between documentation and reflection through the inclusion of three long essays that act as general surveys of matters not specifically covered in individual milestones and form the framework of a developing interpretation of the history of archaeology. Thus, in Milestones I move beyond an editorial role where the editorial board and I selected entries and commissioned authors to write them, to one where I have selected and written the milestones and the . . .

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