Reading the Past: Current Approaches to Interpretation in Archaeology

By Ian Hodder; Scott Hutson | Go to book overview

Preface to the third edition

In this second revision we have decided to make major changes, removing some chapters, adding new ones, and completely revising others. In reading through the text published in 1986 and revised with minor changes for the 1991 edition, it was clear that the book no longer adequately discussed the contemporary theoretical field in archaeology. There have been so many changes that we felt that substantial revisions were needed in a book which attempts to comment on theory in archaeology from a particular point of view. There has been a burgeoning in the discipline of discussions of poststructuralism, agency theory and neo-evolutionary theory, and whole new branches of theory such as phenomenology have emerged. It seemed necessary to cover and comment on these areas of debate, as well as to respond to the many changes and developments in debate within feminist archaeology (third-wave feminism), historical approaches (such as cultural history), theories of discourse and signs (semiotics, dialogical models) and so on. The book is now longer and covers more ground. It thus can still be used as an introduction to archaeological theory in general terms. But it retains a distinctive position, based on a commitment to meaning, agency and history, and it reviews the theoretical debates from that position.

The book has always catered to a rather hybrid audience and we have sought to rewrite so as to respond to a number of different interest groups. On the one hand, we have tried to write for undergraduates in archaeology and anthropology, and we believe that the book offers a still relatively short and understandable account at that level. We have also continued to provide a wide range of examples for students in different parts of the world. On the other hand, the book seeks to contribute to theoretical debate by arguing from a particular

-xvii-

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Reading the Past: Current Approaches to Interpretation in Archaeology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface to the First Edition xi
  • Preface to the Second Edition xv
  • Preface to the Third Edition xvii
  • 1: The Problem 1
  • 2: Processual and Systems Approaches 20
  • 3: Structuralist, Post-Structuralist and Semiotic Archaeologies 45
  • 4: Marxism and Ideology 75
  • 5: Agency and Practice 90
  • 6: Embodied Archaeology 106
  • 7: Archaeology and History 125
  • 8: Contextual Archaeology 156
  • 9: Post-Processual Archaeology 206
  • 10: Conclusion: Archaeology as Archaeology 236
  • Bibliography 248
  • Index 284
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