Archaeology and the Information Age: A Global Perspective

By Paul Reilly; Sebastian Rahtz | Go to book overview

Foreword

This book is the first in the One World Archaeology series to derive from the Second World Archaeological Congress (WAC 2), held in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, in September 1990. Despite many organizational problems (Fforde 1991, p. 6), over 600 people attended the Inaugural Session of WAC 2, with more than 450 participants from 35 countries taking part in academic sessions, and additional contributions being read on behalf of many others who were unable to attend in person.

True to the aims and spirit of WAC 1 over three quarters of the participants came from the so-called Third and Fourth Worlds (see Fforde 1991, p. 7 for details) and the academics came not only from archaeology and anthropology but from a host of related disciplines.

WAC 2 continued the tradition of effectively addressing world archaeology in its widest sense. Central to a world archaeological approach is the investigation not only of how people lived in the past but also of how and why those changes took place which resulted in the forms of society and culture which exist today. Contrary to popular belief, and the archaeology of some 25 years ago, world archaeology is much more than the mere recording of specific historical events, embracing as it does the study of social and cultural change in its entirety.

Like its predecessor, this Congress was organized around major themes. Several of these themes were based on the discussion of full-length papers which had been circulated previously—or were available to be read at the Congress itself—to all those who had indicated a special interest in them. Other sessions, including one dealing with an area of specialization defined by period and geography and another focusing on a particular form of agricultural practice, were based on oral addresses, or a combination of precirculated papers and lectures.

Archaeology and the Information Age: a global perspective results from discussions over five mornings, organized by Paul Reilly and Sebastian Rahtz, of the three volumes of precirculated papers which they had published prior to September 1990. Following the Congress—held only one year ago—the two organizers selected certain of the papers for inclusion as chapters in this volume, and authors were given time for revision and updating of their contributions in the light of discussions at WAC 2. The speed of publication of Archaeology and the Information Age represents considerable effort and careful planning since 1988 when this WAC theme was first envisaged.

I should admit at this point that, as an academic educated in the middle and late 1950s within anthropology and archaeology in the UK, I was—until the above decision in 1988—almost entirely computer-illiterate. To my teenager household I was an object of despair as I struggled to get on terms with word processing; to my Departmental colleagues I was clearly of a different generation. Yet, my first years of research were coterminous with the ‘new archaeology’ and its emphasis on quantitative analysis and model building; indeed, several of my earliest published assertions were supported by chi-squared tests and similar statistics. Subsequently—through my archaeological professional career—it has seemed obvious to me that

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Archaeology and the Information Age: A Global Perspective
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword vii
  • Contents xiii
  • List of Colour Plates (Between Pp. 104 and 105) xix
  • Preface xxi
  • References 75
  • Visualization 79
  • References 93
  • References 121
  • References 171
  • Analysis 175
  • References 272
  • Communication 311
  • References 321
  • Index 385
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