African Archaeology: A Critical Introduction / Edition 1

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"African Archaeology: A Critical Introduction fills a crucial gap by providing a multi-authored introduction to the archaeology of Africa that challenges misconceptions and claims about Africa's past and teaches students how to evaluate these claims. Ann Stahl's introduction explores the contexts that have shaped archaeological knowledge of Africa's past and asks readers to consider for whom Africa's past matters and why. African Archaeology comprises unique contributions by prominent archaeologists with regional and topical expertise. They explore the preoccupations and assumptions that have framed research, assess the quality and reliability of evidence, and chart emerging research directions and questions that can help build on the strengths of earlier work, while finally setting aside long-held misperceptions." African Archaeology is an indispensable tool for students, instructors, and researchers.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Ann Stahl has brought together a set of researchers at the height of their powers and incited them to write chapters that bring home to readers the challenge of the archaeological enterprise. This is the book I would give as a text to seniors and to which I would constantly refer if teaching the archaeology of sub-Saharan Africa to students of any and all levels.”
Nicholas David, University of Calgary

“This book moves beyond the usual seamless syntheses and looks critically at the quality of the evidence, the questions asked and unasked, and how these have been fashioned into narratives about the African past. It is a unique and indispensable resource for Africanist archaeologists, historians, and students of these disciplines.” Susan McIntosh, Rice University

“I have long desired a text for African archaeology that presents a summary of African prehistory while highlighting the research questions and debates that make the study of the African past exciting; that book is now available. The book’s coverage of sub-Saharan Africa is exemplary.”
Peter Robertshaw, California State University, San Bernardino

"This book is a showcase for African Archaeology and deserves a place on the bookshelves of all who teach world archaeology, as well as those who study biodiversity of wild and domestic resources, or care about the linguistics or history of Africa. I recommend 'African Archaeology' to you enthusiastically."
Journal of African Archaeology

"This book achieves its main goals admirably. The twenty-three contributing authors (African, European, and North American) are all specialists in their respected fields... The individual chapters are remarkably consistent in tone, which I suspect shows a strong editorial hand, and really do summarize not only vast amounts of information, but also the current debates around significance and interpretation of the archaeological record. It is difficult to imagine a more comprehensive introduction without resorting to an encyclopedia format. The references are copious and up-to-date, which will make this a valuable resource for both lecturers and students."
African Studies Review

"The great strength of the volume is its critical stance. Evidence is presented within its context, warts and all, not as 'the final truth'... The geographic coverage is remarkable...In summary, African Archaeology: A Critical Introduction is a success. It does exactly what its name suggests: leading students by example in evaluating evidence, and dismissing long-held misconceptions about the African past."
African History

“A most welcome addition to the few available text-books on archaeologies of the African continent.”

“The first … stated objective … [is] to give some account of the breadth of history … .The book does so admirably well.” H-Net Reviews

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Ann Brower Stahl is Professor of Anthropology at Binghamton University, SUNY

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Table of Contents

Series Editors’ Preface.



Notes on Contributors.

1 Introduction. Changing Perspectives on Africa’s Pasts: Ann Brower Stahl (State University of New York at Binghamton).

2 Barbarous Tribes and Unrewarding Gyrations? The Changing Role of Ethnographic Imagination in African Archaeology: Paul J. Lane (British Institute in Eastern Africa).

3 Discord after Discard. Reconstructing Aspects of Oldowan Hominin Behavior: Thomas Plummer (City University of New York).

4 The Middle and Upper Pleistocene African Record for the Biological and Behavioral Origins of Modern Humans: Curtis W. Marean and Zelalem Assefa (Arizona State University; SUNY at Stony Brook.

5 A Late Pleistocene Archive of Life at the Coast, Klasies River: H. J. Deacon and Sarah Wurz (University of Stellenbosch; University of Stellenbosch).

6 Modeling Later Stone Age Societies in Southern Africa: Peter Mitchell (University of Oxford).

7 Holocene “Aquatic” Adaptations in North Tropical Africa: Augustin F. C. Holl (University of Michigan).

8 Pastoralism and its Consequences: Diane Gifford-Gonzalez (University of California, Santa Cruz).

9 Holocene Occupations of the Forest and Savanna: Joanna Casey (University of South Carolina).

10 The Romance of Farming—Plant Cultivation and Domestication in Africa: Katharina Neumann (J. W. Goethe-Universität).

11 Metallurgy and its Consequences: S. Terry Childs and Eugenia W. Herbert (National Park Service, Mount Holyoke College).

12 The Bantu Problem and African Archaeology: Manfred Eggert (Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte und Archäologie des Mittelalters).

13 The Archaeology of Sub-Saharan Urbanism: Cities and their Countrysides: Adria LaViolette and Jeff Fleisher (University of Virginia; University of Virginia).

14 Interaction, Marginalization, and the Archaeology of the Kalahari: Andrew Reid (University College London).

15 Southern Africa and the East African Coast: Gilbert Pwiti (University of Zimbabwe).

16 Mosaics and Interactions: East Africa, 2000 B.P. to the Present: Chapurukha M. Kusimba and Sibel B. Kusimba (The Field Museum, Chicago; Northern Illinois University).

17 From Pottery Groups to Ethnic Groups in Central Africa: Pierre de Maret (Université Libre de Bruxelles).

18 Two Thousand Years of West African History: Scott MacEachern (Bowdoin College).


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