Peter Davies and Susan Lawrence
Technology, environment, and society have always been intimately connected in Australia, from the earliest arrival of modern humans almost 50,000 years ago to the settlement of Europeans since 1788. Colonists from Britain quickly learned the lessons of the natural environment in terms of thin soils and erratic rainfall. These factors placed real limits on settlement and industry, but also stimulated the introduction and adaptation of new ideas and technologies. No environmental factor had greater impact on colonial settlement than the availability of water. Archaeologists in Australia have focused on the use of water as a source of industrial energy, its role in the formation of cultural landscapes, and the development of urban water supplies and drainage. Much archaeological work remains to be done, however, on documenting and interpreting the ways in which people captured, stored, and distributed water, and the ever-changing relationships between people, technology, and environment through time.
Rosemary A. Joyce and Joshua Pollard
Archaeologists routinely describe sites as composed of assemblages encountered in deposits. But what is actually meant by ‘assemblage’ and ‘deposition’? This article explores how these concepts have been developed and considers the implications of contemporary understandings of deposition and assemblage that depart significantly from conventional definitions, many still to be found in introductory text books. Conventionally, the term ‘assemblage’ is applied to a collection of artefacts or ecofacts recovered from a specific archaeological context — a site, an area within a site, a stratified deposit, or a specific feature such as a ditch, tomb, or house. This article further explains in details the histories of archaeological approaches followed by contemporary approaches. The conventional definitions of assemblage and deposition emerged from geological and processual models of archaeological ‘formation processes’ that developed from the nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth century. Analysis the contemporary approach towards archaeological assemblages finishes this article.
This article focuses on archaeological representation, a recently established research specialism within archaeology that centres on examining how non-academic representations of the past have contributed to the construction of knowledge about ancient societies and cultures. It explains that archaeological representations can be two- or three-dimensional, visual or textual, static or performative and they can either depict past cultures, archaeological sites, or the material remains of ancient societies. It also evaluates the contribution of archaeology in the construction of disciplinary knowledge and in the way in which representations of the past have become intimately linked with knowing or understanding the past.
Marcos Martinón-Torres and David Killick
Archaeological theory and archaeological science have traditionally been characterized as concerned with different issues and unable to interact productively. In this chapter, we present a brief history of the relationship between these two subdisciplines, and some clarification of the differences between scientific archaeology and archaeological science. We then focus on examples of recent and current projects to argue that we should no longer differentiate between archaeologists on the one hand and archaeological scientists on the other, since many leading practitioners of archaeological sciences are both. We contend that science-based archaeology today plays an important role in the formulation of new theories, and in challenging long-standing assumptions in archaeology and numerous other fields (e.g. ecology). Archaeological science is central to contemporary archaeological theory and practice, and will become increasingly important in the foreseeable future.
Shoshaunna Parks and Patricia A. McAnany
This article examines the present relationship between indigenous people and archaeology in Mesoamerica, with an emphasis on the Maya region. It provides a brief analysis of the historical and political conditions that have contributed to the disenfranchisement of indigenous peoples from the ancient past. It also looks at recent interactions among stakeholders in the investigation, interpretation, and management of Mesoamerican archaeological heritage.
Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos
The historiography of archaeology in Guatemala is still in its infancy. Accounts of Maya archaeology are mostly concerned with the development of ideas in North America and Europe, where strong traditions of Maya research developed since the nineteenth century. Few authors delve into the sociopolitical events that have conditioned the work of foreign scholars in the country, their interaction with Guatemalan students, and the intellectual currents that have influenced the latter. Guatemalan archaeology has also been overlooked in general surveys of Latin American archaeology. This article describes selected stages in the history of Guatemalan archaeology, based on previous overviews.
Jaime J. Awe
Located on the southeastern corner of the Yucatán Peninsula, Belize is the second smallest country in Central America. In spite of its size, however, the country has an incredibly rich and diverse cultural heritage that includes the remains of pioneering preceramic cultures, numerous prehistoric cities that reflect the grandeur of Maya civilization, the ruins of several “Visita” churches that represent the failed efforts of sixteenth-century Spanish entradas , and various historic sites of the British colonial period. This article provides a brief history of the management of archaeological resources in Belize, a summary of archaeological investigations during the last two hundred years, and the present direction of archaeological research in the country.
South East Asians in the early modern period (c.1450–1800) embraced technological innovations and novel ideas that crossed their paths. The fifteenth century ushered in the collapse of large empires and the rise of local craft industries; multi-ethnic diasporic communities developed in port cities; and standardized currencies structured local economies. Europeans entered this world in search of luxury goods and precious metals—in two centuries they would colonize most of the region. Although most historians explain the emergence of South East Asia’s ‘Age of Commerce’ through external factors, indigenous documents and archaeological information from this period offer insights on internal dynamics that contributed to region-wide transformations. Two objectives structure this chapter: to assess the range of issues that archaeological research has raised, challenged, or refuted, and to weave historical and archaeological threads into a series of themes that might guide future archaeological research on the period 1450–1850.
Since the beginning of human seafaring endeavors, all watercraft were limited to three modes of propulsion: muscle, currents, and wind, all of which had their limitations. Steam propulsion gave a radical departure from the old and familiar, and it overcame various limitations. This article describes the evolution of steamboats as commercially successful ships. It gives the examples of the Vermont, Phoenix, and Lady Sherbrooke to explain the structure, engineering, and evolution of early steamboats. The effects of maritime steam were particularly notable in North American waters. The wrecks of western river steamboats dating to the 1850s or later have been found and subjected to some level of archaeological study. Maritime archaeology has allowed people to see for themselves the processes of invention, engineering, and construction that made the steamboat a reality.
Geoffrey McCafferty, Fabio Esteban Amador, Silvia Salgado González, and Carrie Dennett
The southern frontier of Mesoamerica has fluctuated through time but has generally included portions of the Central American countries of El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Tied into this liminal status, the history of archaeological research and the development of archaeological institutions in these countries have varied, sometimes emphasizing “Mesoamerican-ness” and sometimes highlighting independent development. This article discusses the history of archaeological practice in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. It then presents a brief overview of the culture history of the region with particular emphasis on relations with Mesoamerican cultures.