Academic journal article Southeastern Archaeology

Making Archaeology Happen: Design versus Dogma

Academic journal article Southeastern Archaeology

Making Archaeology Happen: Design versus Dogma

Article excerpt

Making Archaeology Happen: Design versus Dogma. MARTIN CARVER. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, CA, 2011. 184 pp., ill., map. $94.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-161132-024-4; $29.95 (paper), ISBN: 978-1-61132-025-1; $29.95 (e-book), ISBN: 978-1-61132-551-5.

Making Archaeology Happen is an entertaining and highly informative book that will wonderfully serve multiple demographics in the classroom as well as the professional field. It is a work for the twenty-first century that critiques the past in order to convalesce the present. Humorous, colorful, and even strikingly forward at times, it offers an enjoyable read that challenges its audience to question their own actions and methods in the field and the factors which mayor may not-justify these actions.

Carver addresses the fallacies of standardization that have consumed contemporary archaeological methodology. This "dogma," as Carver designates it, is an inadequate and imprisoning theory to a multidisciplinary field that he resolves to be equally an art and a science. Carver advocates rather for unique situational "design" for which determination relies on three major aspects: terrain and the physical nature of a site, research objectives, and the social context in which the site is placed. Citing examples from various sites ranging from the Middle East to Great Britain and the United States, Carver contextualizes the numerous standards of archaeological practice that are taught to students, practiced in field schools, and applied in the field around the world in order to prove the inadequacy of any one fundamental as ruling procedure in archaeological investigation.

Each of the six chapters within Carver's book reiterates a presentation from his Rhind Lectures of 2010. Notwithstanding the casual nature of these papers, Carver provides a convincing argument in his travel through discussions of contemporary archaeological method, terrain characteristics, the relationship between social context and archaeology, and the divisions between cultural resource management (CRM) and academic-based research. He encourages the reader to think critically about not only the methods and practice of research but also the effects on contemporary communities. …

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