Constructing Frames of Reference: An Analytical Method for Archaeological Theory Building Using Ethnographic and Environmental Data Sets / Edition 1

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Overview


Many consider Lewis Binford to be the single most influential figure in archaeology in the last half-century. His contributions to the "New Archaeology" changed the course of the field, as he argued for the development of a scientifically rigorous framework to guide the excavation and interpretation of the archaeological record. This book, the culmination of Binford's intellectual legacy thus far, presents a detailed description of his methodology and its significance for understanding hunter-gatherer cultures on a global basis. This landmark publication will be an important step in understanding the great process of cultural evolution and will change the way archaeology proceeds as a scientific enterprise.

This work provides a major synthesis of an enormous body of cultural and environmental information and offers many original insights into the past. Binford helped pioneer what is now called "ethnoarchaeology"—the study of living societies to help explain cultural patterns in the archaeological record—and this book is grounded on a detailed analysis of ethnographic data from about 340 historically known hunter-gatherer populations. The methodological framework based on this data will reshape the paradigms through which we understand human culture for years to come.

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Editorial Reviews

Nature
An important landmark work. The environmental and behavioural information Binford compiles for his sample of 339 hunter-gatherer groups will certainly be one of this book's most lasting contributions.
American Scientist
Binford brings to this exercise enormous erudition, scientific sophistication, and National Academy intellect. The result is a huge, dense and difficult book. This is Binford's hunting and gathering masterpiece. Future generations of students will probably call it the 'hunting and gathering bible.'
Nature
An important landmark work. The environmental and behavioural information Binford compiles for his sample of 339 hunter-gatherer groups will certainly be one of this book's most lasting contributions.
American Scientist
Binford brings to this exercise enormous erudition, scientific sophistication, and National Academy intellect. The result is a huge, dense and difficult book. This is Binford's hunting and gathering masterpiece. Future generations of students will probably call it the 'hunting and gathering bible.'
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520223936
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 6/16/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 583
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author


Lewis R. Binford is University Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at Southern Methodist University. He is author of Debating Archaeology (1989), In Pursuit of the Past (1983), and Working at Archaeology (1983), among many other books.
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Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
Acknowledgments
Prologue 1
Pt. I Exploring Prior Knowledge and Belief
Ch. 1 "Founder's Effect" and the Study of Hunter-Gatherers 9
Ch. 2 Human Actors and Their Role in the Evolutionary Play 32
Ch. 3 The Play of Ideas in the Scientific Theater 44
Pt. II Methods for Using Prior Knowledge: Building Frames of Reference and Models
Ch. 4 Setting the Stage for the Evolutionary Play: The Earth's Climates, Plants, and Animals 55
Ch. 5 Designing Frames of Reference and Exploring Projections: The Plot Thickens 114
Ch. 6 Building a Baseline for Analyzing Niche Variability among Ethnographically Documented Peoples: A Minimalist Terrestrial Model of Hunting and Gathering 160
Pt. III Recognizing Patterns and Generalizing about What the World Is Like: The Transition from Pattern Recognition to Theory Building
Ch. 7 Twenty-One Generalizations in Search of a Theory 209
Ch. 8 A Flat Earth or a "Thick Rotundity"?: Investigating What the World Is Like before Attempting to Explain It 243
Ch. 9 The Play's the Thing in the Scientific Theater 316
Pt. IV Putting Ideas, Second-Order Derivative Patterning, and Generalizations Together: Explorations in Theory Building
Ch. 10 A Disembodied Observer Looks at Hunter-Gatherer Responses to Packing 364
Ch. 11 The Evolution of System States: Complexity, Stability, Symmetry, and System Change 400
Ch. 12 The Last Act Crowns the Play 434
Epilogue 465
Notes 473
References 493
Author Index 535
Index of Ethnographic Cases and Archaeological Sites 539
Subject Index 541
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