The Archaeology Coursebook: An Introduction to Study Skills, Topics and Methods

By Jim Grant; Sam Gorin et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 11

Social Archaeology

YOUR GOALS

You need to

understand the main concepts used

use case studies to apply and test the key concepts

grasp the strengths and weaknesses of the techniques used by archaeologists to reconstruct society from physical evidence

develop your ability to write evaluative essays.

Hawkes (▶p. 138) identified the archaeology of past social systems like that of ritual as a difficult topic for archaeologists. Despite this, most archaeologists have written with confidence on the societies they have studied and used a wide range of models (particularly from ethnography) to help interpret their sources.


WHAT IS SOCIAL ARCHAEOLOGY?

Social archaeology can usefully be divided into three main subsections. How societies organise themselves ranges from the basic units of family, kin and bands to the political organisation of states. Divisions within society include different treatment based on age or gender and also stratification according to wealth, power or status. Finally there is social action and change. This can include phenomena like warfare or how and why societies changed in the past.

When studying this topic, an anthropological or sociological textbook (for example Giddens 1989) is a useful source of help with terms. Since this is the last thematic chapter of this coursebook there is danger of repetition. Where possible, we have cross-referenced issues here to studies in earlier chapters. We have also tried to include critical points in each subsection to help you write evaluative essays.

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The Archaeology Coursebook: An Introduction to Study Skills, Topics and Methods
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Brief Contents v
  • Contents vii
  • Figures xix
  • Index of Skills xxii
  • Acknowledgements xxiii
  • Illustration Acknowledgements xxiv
  • Introduction xxv
  • Part One - Understanding Archaeological Resources 1
  • Chapter 1 3
  • Chapter 2 25
  • Chapter 3 58
  • Chapter 4 80
  • Chapter 5 93
  • Chapter 6 105
  • Chapter 7 120
  • Part Two - Studying Themes in Archaeology 135
  • Chapter 8 137
  • Chapter 9 165
  • Chapter 10 196
  • Chapter 11 236
  • Part Three - Examination Success and Beyond 259
  • Chapter 12 261
  • Chapter 13 283
  • Chapter 14 - Where to Next? 296
  • Chapter 15 - Finding the Best Information 301
  • Appendix 305
  • Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations 307
  • Bibliography 315
  • Index 319
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