While most archaeological courses concern the Whats, Wheres and Whens of the past, this course addresses the Whys, Whos and Hows. This course will take a thematic approach to the changing ways archaeologists have interpreted past places, things and people since 1950 and to the development of regional archaeologies around the world.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
By the end of this course students will be expected to:
- Recognise the key concepts, themes and narratives used by archaeological theoreticians and discuss them within larger disciplinary, historical and national contexts;
- Critique the application of specific theoretical concepts and paradigms to the archaeological record;
- Think, write and argue with these key concepts, themes and theories using supporting evidence from the archaeological record;
- Reflect on and discuss the
ways various topics within archaeological theory apply to the practice of
archaeology and the archaeological record of different regions.
- Research essay 2500 words 40% [LO 1 - 4]
- Review essay 1500 words 30% [LO 1 - 4]
- Tutorial portfolio 1000 words 20% [LO 3 & 4]
- Guided tutorial discussion 10% [LO 2 - 4]
Regarding guided discussions:
Undergraduates will be expected to 'guide' a tutorial discussion by preparing summaries of supplementary reading and proposing discussion questions based around these texts.
In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle.
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Workload130 hours of total student learning time made up from: a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of tutorials or structured learning activities; and b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.
Requisite and Incompatibility
Johnson, M. 2010. Archaeological theory: an introduction. 2nd ed. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
Other indicative texts (*chapters/papers in):
*Ashmore, W. & Knapp, A.B. eds. 1999. Archaeologies of landscape: contemporary perspectives. Oxford: Blackwell.
*Bentley, R.A., Maschner, H.D.G. & Chippindale, C. eds. 2008. Handbook of archaeological theories. Lanham, MD: Altamira Press.
Binford, L. 1983, In pursuit of the Past. Decoding the archaeological record, London: Thames and Hudson
*Binford, S.R. & Binford, L.R. eds. 1968. New perspectives in archeology. Chicago: Aldine Pub. Co.
*Bintliff, J.L. ed. 1991. The Annales school and archaeology. Leicester: Leicester University Press.
Clark, JDG 1954. The Economic Approach to Prehistory. Proceedings of the British Academy, 39: 215-38.
*Clark, JDG. 1952: Prehistoric Europe: The economic basis, London, Methuen & Co.
Clarke, D. L. 1973: Archaeology: the loss of innocence. Antiquity, 47, 6-18.
Clarke, D.L. 1978, Analytical archaeology, 2nd ed. revised by Bob Chapman. London: Methuen.
Conkey, M.W. & Gero, J.M. 1997. Programme to practice: Gender and feminism in archaeology. Annual Review of Anthropology, 26: 411-37.
*Dark, K. R. 1995: Theoretical archaeology, London, Duckworth.
*David, N. & Kramer, C. 2001: Ethnoarchaeology in action, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
*Deetz, J. 1977: In small things forgotten: the archaeology of early American life, London, Doubleday.
Dobres, M.-A. 1995. Gender and Prehistoric Technology: On the Social Agency of Technical Strategies. World Archaeology, 27 (1): 25-49.
Dobres, M.-A. 2000. Technology and social agency: outlining a practice framework for archaeology. Oxford: Blackwell.
Dobres, M.-A. & Hoffman, C. 1994. Social agency and the dynamics of prehistoric technology. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 1 (3): 211-58.
*Dobres, M.-A. & Robb, J.E. eds. 2000. Agency in archaeology. London: Routledge.
Earle, T.K. 1987. Chiefdoms in archaeological and ethnohistorical perspective. Annual review of anthropology, 16: 279-308.
*Earle, T.K. 1997. How chiefs come to power: the political economy in prehistory. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.
Fowler, C. 2004. The archaeology of personhood: an anthropological approach. London: Routledge.
*Gathercole, P.W. & Lowenthal, D. eds. 1990. The Politics of the past: Unwin Hyman.
*Gilchrist, R. 1999. Gender and archaeology: contesting the past. London: Routledge.
*Gosden, C. 1999. Anthropology and archaeology: a changing perspective. London: Routledge.
*Gosden, C. 2004. Archaeology and colonialism: cultural contact from 5000 BC to the present. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gosden, C. 2005. What do objects want? Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 12 (3): 193-211.
Gosden, C. & Head, L. 1994. Landscape - a usefully ambiguous concept. Archaeology in Oceania, 29: 113-16.
Gosden, C. & Marshall, Y. 1999. The cultural biography of objects. World Archaeology, 31 (2): 169-78.
Hawkes, C. 1954: Archaeological Theory and Method: some suggestions from the Old World. American anthropologist, 56, 155-168.
Hegemon, M. 2003. Setting Theoretical Egos Aside: Issues and Theory in North American Archaeology American Antiquity, 68 (2): 213-43.
*Hicks, D. & Beaudry, M.C. eds. 2010. The Oxford handbook of material culture studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hodder, I. 1977: The distribution of material culture items in the Baringo district, Western Kenya. Man, 12, 239-269.
*Hodder, I. & Hutson, S. 2003: Reading the past: current approaches to interpretation in archaeology, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Kohl, P. 1985. Symbolic, Cognitive Archaeology: A new Loss of Innocence. Dialectical anthropology, 9: 105-117.
Leone, M.P., Potter, P.B. & Shackel, P.A. 1987. Toward a critical archaeology. Current Anthropology, 28: 283-302.
*Maschner, H.D.G. ed. 1996. Darwinian archaeologies. New York: Plenum Press.
*Parker Pearson, M. & Richards, C. eds. 1994. Architecture and order: approaches to social space. London: Routledge.
Pollard, A.M. & Bray, P. 2007. A bicycle made for two? The integration of scientific techniques into archaeological interpretation. Annual review of anthropology, 36: 245-59.
*Preucel, R.W. & Hodder, I. eds. 1996. Contemporary archaeology in theory. Oxford: Blackwell.
*Preucel, R.W. & Mrozowski, S.A. eds. 2010. Contemporary archaeology in theory: the new pragmatism. 2nd ed. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
*Schiffer, M.B. 1976. Behavioral archeology. New York: Academic Press.
*Schiffer, M.B. 1987. Formation processes of the archaeological record. 1st ed ed. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.
*Shanks, M. & Tilley, C. Y. 1987a: Re-constructing archaeology: theory and practice, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
*Shanks, M. & Tilley, C. Y. 1987b: Social theory and archaeology, Cambridge, Polity.
*Sørensen, M.L.S. 2000. Gender archaeology. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Stark, M. 1991: Production and community specialization: A Kalinga ethnoarchaeological study. World Archaeology, 23, 64-78.
*Stark, M. ed. 1998. The archaeology of social boundaries. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.
Tilley, C.Y. 1994. A phenomenology of landscape: places, paths and monuments. Oxford: Berg.
*Tilley, C.Y. ed. 2006. Handbook of material culture. London: SAGE Publications.
*Trigger, B.G. 2006. A history of archaeological thought. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Vita-Finzi, C. & Higgs, E.S. 1970. Prehistoric Economy in the Mount Carmel Area of Palestine: Site Catchment Analysis. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 36: 1-37.
Watson, RA 1972: The 'new archaeology' of the 1960s. Antiquity, 66, 210-215.
*Whitley, D.S. ed. 1998. Reader in archaeological theory: post-processual and cognitive approaches. London: Routledge.
*Wylie, A. 2002. Thinking from things: essays in the philosophy of archaeology. Berkeley: University of California Press.
*Yoffee, N. & Sherratt, A. eds. 1993. Archaeological theory: who sets the agenda? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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