Archaeology Matters: Action Archaeology in the Modern World / Edition 1

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Archaeology is perceived to study the people of long ago and far away. How could archaeology matter in the modern world? Well-known archaeologist Jeremy Sabloff points to ways in which archaeology might be important to the understanding and amelioration of contemporary problems. Though archaeologists have commonly been associated with efforts to uncover cultural identity, to restore the past of underrepresented peoples, and to preserve historical sites, their knowledge and skills can be used in many other ways. Archaeologists help Peruvian farmers increase crop yields, aid city planners in reducing landfills, and guide local communities in tourism development and water management. This brief volume, aimed at students and other prospective archaeologists, challenges the field to go beyond merely understanding the past and actively engage in making a difference in the today’s world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"What matters in Jeremy Sabloff’s Archaeology Matters is his call that archaeology be political, practical, and located inside and within communities. I have known Jerry Sabloff over 40 years and never has his archeology been so fresh, pertinent, skillful, and inviting. He writes to us all as a senior professional who could say he has done enough, but proves here that we have more to do, particularly as citizens."

—Mark Leone, University of Maryland

"Archaeology matters to Jeremy Sabloff and he convincingly argues that archaeology should matter to the general public, policy makers, and students. In a very clear and accessible way, Sabloff demonstrates how archaeology has important contributions to make to present-day issues and problems. I hope that this book will become standard fare in introduction to archaeology courses. Our discipline and our students will be improved when it does."

—Randall McGuire, SUNY Binghamton

“This book is an archaeological activist’s primer, full of good arguments for enjoining the intellectual battle for a less rapacious society and more sustainable development. Jerry has rightly aimed it at the young (the book is ‘intended for students on introductory archaeological courses’) who are idealistic enough to want to see their archaeology having an impact on contemporary issues, but he does not underestimate how difficult it will be to get some of these messages across, noting wryly that the best known ‘archaeologist’ in America is an unrepentant looter called Indiana Jones - not exactly the role model archaeologists would choose for their caring profession.”

—Christopher Catling, SALON - the Society of Antiquaries of London Online Newsletter

“Many of [the] case studies show archaeology is being used as a political and legal tool to uphold the rights of traditional committees against governments and commercial interests that would walk over them for short term gain... Depending on your political position (and how idealistic you are), this is a book that will either inspire you to see archaeology in a new and positive light, or send you back to the tranquility of your study, muttering that it was to escape all this political nonsense that you took up archaeology in the first place.”

—Current Archaeology

“Congratulations to Jeremy Sabloff for producing for producing an eminently readable, important, and slim volume presenting a polemic for a practically oriented, relevant, “action archaeology,” an archaeology that can make quite specific contributions to the solution of - or, at least, can provide insights concerning - problems facing us in the modern world…Archaeology Matters should be in the bookshelf of every archaeologist and would be a terrific volume to adopt in a variety of undergraduate and graduate archaeology courses.”

—Ken Feder, Journal of Anthropological Research

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781598740899
  • Publisher: Left Coast Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/2008
  • Series: Key Questions in Anthropology Series, #1
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 151
  • Sales rank: 758,741
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeremy A. Sabloff is president of the Santa Fe Institute. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Society of Antiquaries, London. Sabloff’s research interests range from the study of ancient Maya civilization, to archaeological theory and method, to the history of American archaeology, to pre-industrial urbanism, and to the use of settlement pattern studies. He has conducted field work in the Maya lowlands of Mexico and Guatemala including co-directing the major field project at the Yucatan site of Sayil. He is author or editor of  20 books and countless articles on the Maya and the history of archaeology. Sabloff is former president of the Society for American Archaeology.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations     10
Preface     11
Acknowledgments     12
The Importance of the Past for the Present     15
Lessons from the Past?     33
How Can the Prospects for a Sustainable World Be Improved?     47
Is Warfare Inevitable?     59
Why Cities?     69
What Can Be Done to Preserve the World's Historical Heritage?     79
Future Directions     93
Epilogue     103
Following Up the Book's Themes: An Introductory Guide     111
Notes     119
References     127
Index     145
About the Author     151
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