The Emergence of the New Archaeology

| February 10, 2014

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Over the past weeks we’ve seen archaeology take form, with culture history developing as the first expression of what can be considered contemporary archaeology. And while it continues to dominate contemporary archaeological practice, by the mid-20th century some felt that there were questions that this approach alone could not address. What would become known as the New Archaeology emerged from the insights of a group of young scholars over the course of several decades. Lewis Binford was a key figure in bringing forth this new vision of archaeology. His call to arms was his 1962 article “Archaeology as Anthropology.”
Based on your readings to date, how did Binford’s article address some of the shortcomings of the New Archaeology that had been articulated by earlier critics of the cultural historical approach?
I am looking for a thoughtful essay on this question that reveals (a) a grasp of the essential nature of culture history and its limits; (b) what the New Archaeology brought that moved archaeology forward; and (c) a sense of the historical (and personality) factors at play at the time.
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Category: Anthropology

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