Reading the Past: Current Approaches to Interpretation in Archaeology

  • Publish Date: 1991-03-29
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Author: Ian Hodder
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The mainstream archaeology of the seventies, 'processual archaeology', modelled itself on the natural sciences. It has been challenged in recent years by a 'post-processual' archaeology which draws upon the wider perspectives of history and social anthropology, insisting that account must be taken of the context and meaning of behaviour, and that the ideological uses of archaeology be recognized by practitioners. Ian Hodder, a leading figure in the new movement, argues in this book that in explaining the behaviour of past societies a concern with meaning must be joined to the study of ecological constraints and economic and social processes. This leads him to discuss systems theory and structuralist and Marxist approaches in archaeology. Post-processual archaeology is socially engaged and multivocal, since if material remains may be treated in some ways as texts, they lend themselves to divergent readings. Hodder suggests that archaeologists must bring a variety of perspectives to bear in the complex and uncertain tack of 'translating the meaning of past texts into their own contemporary language'.