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.
Sally Crawford, Dawn M. Hadley, and Gillian Shepherd
This chapter provides an overview of the development and growth of the archaeology of childhood as a discipline. It outlines the emergence of the inclusion of childhood and children in archaeological studies. Childhood is discussed in terms of the role of competence, as well as dependency, of children, and its relevance in archaeological interpretation. The notion of biological age and chronological age as definitions of childhood are discussed. This is followed by an introduction to the volume which provides an outline of the structure of the volume, its themes, the key areas discussed within the chapters, and the contribution this new volume makes to the discipline.
William R. Caraher and David K. Pettegrew
Since the Renaissance, archaeology has played a significant albeit changing role in illuminating the history of early Christianity. This chapter surveys different historical approaches to archaeological investigations of Christianity, from early efforts to authenticate or disprove the traditions and practices of the Catholic church to the development of the field of early Christian archaeology in continental Europe and through to more recent efforts to reconstruct the social and economic contexts of early Christian sites and landscapes between the first and eighth centuries. This chapter offers a state of the field, highlighting the positive achievements of archaeologists over the last two centuries and drawing attention to problems of method, interpretation, and approach that modern scholars are working to correct. It recommends repositioning the field within the disciplinary framework of archaeology itself while also encouraging fruitful interdisciplinary conversation.
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.
Archaeology, Theory, and War-Related Violence: Theoretical Perspectives on the Archaeology of Warfare and Warriorhood
Warfare may be understood as violent social encounter with the Other, and has in this sense occurred from the first hominid societies until today. Ample evidence of war-related violence exists across time and space: skeletal traumata, material culture, weapons, war-related ritual finds, fighting technologies, fortifications, and martial iconographies. The archaeology of war is a late ‘discovery’ of the mid 1990s, but advances have recently been made in understanding the scale and roles of warfare in pre- and protohistory and how warfare and warriorhood relate to society, culture, evolution and human biology. This chapter ventures into this discursive field from a theoretical and archaeological point of view while reflecting upon the effectiveness and role of war as a prime mover in history. It is argued that war was often present but never truly endemic, and that war essentially is a matter of culture.
Carl R. Lounsbury
The major focus of this article happens to be architecture and cultural history. Buildings tell many stories. They are complex material objects wherein we live, work, worship, socialize, and play. They serve basic functions but also embody culture and express the dynamics of its social, economic, and political fortunes. Buildings also communicate their messages by their unusual forms, gigantic scale, or dramatic settings. The vast majority blend together as unconscious backdrops to daily routines. Buildings have life cycles. Most buildings have brief tenures before they are destroyed or fall into ruin. Only a very small number of them survive for long periods to give an historical dimension to the landscape. This article proceeds to explain design sources of architectural structures. From the eighteenth century through the early twentieth century, architects in Europe and America found design precedents in the early buildings of their native lands. Buildings are often seen as embodiments of culture.
This article is a strong defence of the idea of ‘art’, but it also recognizes its complexity and the fact that as a concept, ‘art’ is fuzzy around the edges. It uses a concept of family resemblance and sees art objects as forming polythetic sets. The category contains within it an immense diversity and includes objects that have little in common with each other and require very different methods of analysis. However, at the heart of this concept of art lies a set of loosely connected features or themes around which the idea of art coalesces: art is a form of action, art production is integral to meaning creating processes and requires a sense of form, and art is associated with aesthetic experience. This article proceeds to explain ideas of art and material culture. An analysis of art as cross-cultural category concludes this article.
Studying human evolution means getting to grips with the fundamental question of what it actually means to be ‘human’. Is humanity best defined by our genes, our physical biology, or our behaviour, or some combination of all three? Multiple lines of evidence are available from a range of disciplines, including archaeogenetics, biological anthropology, and archaeology, but each also has its weaknesses, and different disciplines often work from very different definitions of ‘human’ which are inevitably informed by—and impact on—broader cultural ideas about human nature and origins. This chapter discusses the ways in which archaeologists and anthropologists can integrate these often conflicting perspectives on what humans and our ancestors are, what we do and why, into a coherent account of how and why we ‘became human’.
We can no longer maintain that religion is a neglected area of archaeological discourse. Recent interest owes much to the post-processual recognition of the materiality of social life, though there is still disagreement about the extent to which belief and ritual are embedded in social action. Meanwhile, the classic structuralist trope that ritual systems are inherently conservative and that religious structure mirrors social structure has been seriously reconsidered within anthropology. As with many other areas, the special contribution of archaeology may well be its long time-depth, allowing ritual and social change to be studied over more than just a few generations. This chapter reviews several fundamental questions in the archaeology of belief and ritual: Why is it important to study religion? What are the problems in the archaeology of belief? Is the distinction between the sacred and the profane a useful one? What is the social role of religion?
Patricia E. Rubertone
Recent historical archaeological research in New England has questioned colonialism’s narratives about entanglements between Native Americans and Europeans. Drawing on approaches that situate colonial relations in diachronic perspectives, landscapes, and cultural and social pluralism, and theories of agency, daily practice, memory, identity, and postcolonialism, researchers have explored interconnected histories that are more complicated and enduring. This chapter discusses the recovery of these complexities envisioned by critical studies of historical archaeological evidence, and increasingly through collaborations with indigenous groups to challenge assumptions about when, where, how, and why the experiences of natives and colonizers intersected. Examples from ancestral places to the colonized landscape’s plantations, reservations, diasporic enclaves, and urban homelands reveal the region’s Indians on different stages and in different roles from those scripted for them and subvert overly simplistic expectations about their shared histories with colonizers to amend colonialism’s injustices.
This chapter offers a critical review of the main research approaches focusing on the body and the notion of the person in archaeology. Particular emphasis is placed upon research trends that have emerged in the last thirty years, as this period witnessed the increasing importance of such themes in archaeological analysis. Initially, I discuss three research agendas that have approached the human body from a positivist viewpoint, largely drawing on research methodologies developed in the ‘hard sciences’ (i.e. bioarchaeology, processualism, and Darwinian and evolutionary archaeology). Secondly, I discuss approaches that tend to explore the person as both a social and a biological entity, thereby focusing on the socio-cultural practices through which past people were ‘constructed’ differently in different cultural contexts (i.e. postprocessualism and interpretative archaeology). In the final sections of the chapter I critically assess two major strands that have largely developed from this second framework, namely gender and personhood.
David R. Starbuck
British forces on the frontier of eighteenth-century North America faced potent adversaries in the form of French armies and forts, often accompanied by their Native American allies. The lack of easily traversed roads could have been a logistical nightmare, but armies were able to overcome this by travelling along the waterways that formed a natural transportation corridor between Canada and New York City. Numerous British fortifications were constructed in the 1750s along Lake Champlain, Lake George, and the Hudson River north of Albany, and many of these positions were reoccupied twenty years later during the American Revolution. Strategically positioned forts were accompanied by large seasonal encampments, by specialized structures that included blockhouses and hospitals, and by battlefields where clashes occurred. Archaeologists have conducted excavations at many of these sites, seeking to understand the strategies, provisioning, and building techniques employed by British Regulars as they fought on the American landscape.