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Teaching Archaeology (Lewis R. Binford in the Classroom)

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Item Code: NAY906
Author: Nancy Medaris Stone and K. Paddayya
Publisher: Aryan Books International
Language: English
Edition: 2020
ISBN: 9788173056406
Pages: 332 (Throughout B/W Illustrations)
Other Details 11.00 X 9.00 inch
Weight 1.27 kg
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Book Description
About the Book
Beginning in the 1960s, the influential archaeologist Lewis R. Binford challenged a field whose explanatory framework for interpreting the archaeological record was, he wrote, "by convention a simple reflection of the social identity of the creators" of that record. He responded to that inflexible perspective by committing himself to the development of a methodology that would result in a much more robust and secure understanding of the dynamic factors that produced the static archaeological record. Over the course of a lifetime dedicated to personal learning, he did ethnographic fieldwork with hunters and gatherers in the Arctic, the Kalahari Desert, and the Australian outback, studied large-scale environmental and ecological processes, and, at the much smaller scale of the human individual, observed how such things as physical constraints on movement conditioned archaeological site structure.

In ten books and numerous scholarly articles Binford discussed the evolution of his ideas and their effect on the trajectory of his research. Two of his monographs, Nunamiut Ethnoarchaeology (1978) and Bones, Ancient Men and Modern Myths (1981) are foundational studies of research undertaken to securely link the statics of the archaeological record to the dynamic conditions that produced them. Working at Archaeology (1983) and Debating Archaeology (1989) contain numerous journal articles, written between 1968 and 1988, which became widely used by his contemporaries in their teaching and research.

The thirty-seven lectures in Teaching Archaeology comprise his course, Strategies of Archaeology, presented during the 1982 fall semester at the University of New Mexico. They reflect his numerous concerns, progressing from a discussion of the nature of the archaeological record and the intellectual tools required to decode it, to how to operationalize the archaeological record to evaluate theories. Binford balances the abstract segments of his presentations with abundant historical and contemporary examples of attempts to explain the meaning of the in-ground remnants from the past. He continued to teach and do research for more than twenty years, during which the strategies outlined in these lectures become an essential part of method and theory in contemporary archaeology. Three of his papers, previously published in India and included here as Appendices, fully complement the topics dealt with in the lectures.

About the Authors
Nancy Medaris Stone is a writer and editor living in New Mexico USA. Her MA in Anthropology/ Archaeology is from the University of New Mexico. She is co-author with archaeologist Lawrence L. Loendorf of the ethno-archaeological study, Mountain Spirit, The Sheep Eater Indians of Yellowstone, and a novel for young readers, Two Hawk Dreams.

K. Paddayya is Emeritus Professor and former Director of Deccan College (Deemed University) in Pune. He is Honorary Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and received Padma Shri from the Government of India in 2012.

Like Lewis Binford's other book In Pursuit of the Past: Decoding the Archaeological Record (1983) which arose from a series of lectures delivered by him at various places in Europe in 1980-1981, Teaching Archaeology too has its origins in spoken word. It is based on the classroom lectures forming a very popular course called "Strategies of Archaeology," which Binford taught in the 1980s for undergraduate students in anthropology at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. These lectures, expounding the essentials of New or Processual Archaeology, moulded (or "misguided," as Binford himself used to say) the minds of many batches of young students who in turn contributed significantly to the spread of new ideas in North America and outside. We are indeed grateful to his then-wife Nancy Medaris Stone for her laborious and patient efforts in taping these lectures and transcribing them into a written form. Even after four decades these lectures have not lost their freshness and the issues in methodology dealt with by Binford are still relevant to the whole discipline of archaeology. We therefore welcome Nancy's ready consent to publish this work in India. I am honoured to add a preface to it.

Two persons strode like colossuses the archaeological stage in the twentieth century -Gordon Childe in the first half and Lewis Binford in the later half. Childe was a raconteur par excellence of what Jawaharlal Nehru called "the astonishing adventure of man." His books Man Makes Himself, What Happened in History and Social Evolution brought the whole topic of prehistoric prelude, or what some writers now prefer to call our Deep Past, to the doorsteps of educated laymen all across the world. He also initiated pioneering inquiries into the theory and method of the discipline. In fact, in "Retrospect" which he had scripted shortly before his death, Childe clearly stated that his contributions to the discipline lay neither in making sensational field discoveries nor in recognizing the existence of new cultures but in developing "interpretative concepts and methods of explanation." And his books piecing Together the Past and Society and Knowledge have served well as anchor-stones of the discipline's theoretical framework.

If Childe was a theorist in a larger sense, Binford chose to lavish attention on the methodological domain and bring about fundamental refinements in it, thereby earning fame as a methodological theorist. Binford on his part admits his preoccupation with methodological matters when he states in this volume (Lecture 17) that "A lot of my colleagues say that it is insulting to call me a methodologist but I find it quite a compliment."

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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