Reading the Past: Current Approaches to Interpretation in Archaeology

By Ian Hodder; Scott Hutson | Go to book overview

9
Post-processual archaeology

Processual archaeology made contributions to archaeological theory by encouraging the notion of culture as adaptive, and by applying systems theory, information exchange theory and a host of other general theories. Many of these ideas had existed in some form in earlier approaches in archaeology, and the extent of this continuity will be further examined below. Yet perhaps the major contribution made by the New Archaeology was methodological (Meltzer 1979; Moore and Keene 1983, p. 4). Archaeologists became more concerned about problems of inference, sampling and research design. Quantitative and statistical techniques were used more frequently; procedures were questioned and made more explicit. Contextual archaeology is an attempt to develop archaeological methodology further.

In the realm of theory, there have been a number of developments since the early 1960s which, it can be argued, indicate movement from the initial stance of processual archaeology as represented by the early papers of Binford (1962; 1965) and Flannery (1967). In the 1980s, what we now call postprocessual archaeology encouraged an engagement with the theoretical turns taken in other fields, particularly anthropology, which had explored many new directions not foreseen by the first wave of anthropological archaeology in the 1960s. In the new millennium, as the debate between processualism and post-processualism gives way to a thousand archaeologies (Preucel 1995; Schiffer 2000), the usefulness of this debate is as questionable as the demand for a resolution (Hutson 2001; cf. VanPool and VanPool 1999). In this chapter we summarise the ways in which archaeology benefits from the dismissal of this and other dichotomies and suggest areas in which archaeology can export theory to fields from which it once only imported.

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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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