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Archaeology Is Anthropology

ISBN: 978-1-931303-12-5
175 pages
April 2012, Wiley-Blackwell
Archaeology Is Anthropology (1931303126) cover image


Archaeology and anthropology have come a long way in the past half-century, and the 1950s thinking concerning the relationship between the two is increasingly considered irrelevant. However, the placement of archaeology within the discipline of anthropology has always been uneasy—and was just as much a half-century and more ago as it is now. Is archaeology only now on the brink of "divorce" after decades of pleas for mutual respect and cooperation have finally proven inadequate (Watson 1995)? Is separation the only alternative left to sustain and further archaeology and to finally shake off a second-class status to sociocultural anthropology that archaeologists have long contested (Willey and Sabloff 1993:152)? In what sense can we profess that archaeology is still anthropology?

This volume evaluates the reasons proffered for separation against those in favor of maintaining the identity and practice of archaeologists as anthropologists. Arguments for the separation of archaeology from the discipline of which it has been a part for over a century take several different forms, weighing various intellectual factors: historical, methodological, and theoretical. Recent changes in the practice of archaeology and in the organization of professional societies must also be considered.

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Table of Contents


Is Archaeology Anthropology?
Deborah L. Nichols, Rosemary A. Joyce, and Susan D. Gillespie


Anthropology Must Have Archaeology
Timothy Earle

Bioarchaeology as Anthropology
George J. Armelagos

Archaeology as Anthropology of the Long Term
Thomas Barfield

American Archaeology's Uncertain Future
Geoffrey A. Clark

Archaeological Inference and Ethnographic Analogies: Rethinking the "Lapita Cultural Complex"
John Edward Terrell

Historical Archaeology and Disciplinary Ethnogenesis
Teresita Majewski


Teaching Archaeology as Anthropology
Susan D. Gillespie

Working in Museums as an Archaeological Anthropologist
Rosemary A. Joyce

Archaeology and Anthropology in the Twenty-First Century: Strategies for Working Together
David G. Anderson

Anthropology Is Essential to Private Sector Archaeology
William H. Doelle

Anthropological Archaeology Conducted by Tribes: Traditional Cultural Properties and Cultural Affiliation
T. J. Ferguson


Archaeology and Anthropology
Jane H. Hill

Let Archaeology Be
Richard G. Fox

Archaeology Is Anthropology
Susan D. Gillespie, Rosemary A. Joyce, and Deborah L. Nichols

List of Contributors

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Author Information

SUSAN D. GILLESPIE is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Florida. Her research combines archaeological, iconographic, and ethnohistorical approaches to the investigation of social organization and social identity. Her geographic focus is Mesoamerica, which her scholarship treats as a symbiotic area (a "field of ethnological study") whose co-evolving societies are best understood from regional and interregional long-term comparative perspectives. Her excavations, iconographic, and documentary analyses have focused on the Aztecs, Olmecs, and Maya. She is especially interested in understanding the formation and interactions of social groups and hierarchy from a sociocosmic perspective, and how conceptions of time, place, person, and event were represented in material ways. These include architectural forms and landscapes, ritual and mundane actions, the crafting of portable objects, the manipulation of symbolic forms and icons, and the construction and maintenance of narratives.

DEBORAH L. NICHOLS is the William J. Bryant 1925 Professor of Anthropology at Dartmouth College. Her research has focused on the development of early cities and states in Central Mexico. One area of research has involved a reanalysis of artifacts and excavation data from the site of Cerro Portezuelo in the eastern Basin of Mexico that George Brainerd excavated in the mid-1950s to understand the Classic to Postclassic transition. Among the important findings of the project, she and co-investigators established that occupation of the site began in the Late/Terminal Formative/Preclassic, associated with Patlachique/Tezoyuca ceramics. Our findings indicate that, contrary to most models, Teotihuacan did not exert strong central control of the economy of the southeast Basin of Mexico during the Early Classic period. Cerro Portezuelo obtained obsidian from Michoacan, as well as the Pachuca source controlled by Teotihuacan, and imported Early Classic pottery from the western Basin of Mexico, as well as from the Teotihuacan Valley.
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