Death by Theory: A Tale of Mystery and Archaeological Theory

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"A European Neolithic burial. A large stone Venus. Nothing unusual about it except that it was found on an island in the Pacific Northwest. Archaeologist Hannah Green and her shovelbum nephew find themselves in a tangled web of competing interests - avaricious land owners, hungry media, and a cult of goddess worshippers - while investigating one of the finds of the century. In untangling the mystery of the Washington Venus, Hannah and Sean have to confront questions of archaeological evidence, of ethics, of conflicting interpretation of data, and of the very nature of archaeological truths. Helping them are a cadre of disdainful graduate students who propose various theories - processualist, marxist, feminist, postmodernist - to explain the bizarre events. Teach your students archaeological theory in a fashion they'll enjoy, while they solve the mystery in Adrian Praetzellis's delightful textbook-as-novel."--BOOK JACKET.
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Editorial Reviews

Mary C. Beaudry
By framing the narrative around the themes of goddess-worship and archaeological hoaxes, Praetzellis touches on contemporary, as well as perennial concerns and creates an irresistible impetus for student discussion. His facility with the English language and wry sense of humor come through on every page. I'm looking forward to using this book in my classes.
Sarah Milledge Nelson
If students feel that theory will be the death of them, this book is the cure. It is an amusing way to tackle theory, with many points for productive discussion..
Nancy White
The author's droll humor helps incorporate theory within many other aspects of archaeology—CRM, field methods, the public, even issues of professionalism. Having taught archaeological theory for many years, I appreciate the revised edition, which is nicely updated to include more illustrations, concepts such as 'agency,' and new references and websites.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780759119581
  • Publisher: AltaMira Press
  • Publication date: 1/16/2011
  • Edition description: Revised Edition
  • Pages: 198
  • Sales rank: 945,441
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Adrian Praetzellis is professor of anthropology and director of the Anthropological Studies Center at Sonoma State University.

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition vii

Acknowledgments ix

1 "A" is for Archaeology: In which Dr. Green and Mr. Doyle are Enlisted 1

2 "A" is (also) for Artifact: In which we Learn that Sometimes a Rock is Just a Rock 13

3 "B" is for Binford: In which we Learn what's New about Archaeology 28

4 "C" is for Culture Process, and "E" is for Ethnoarchaeology: In which we Learn How the New Archeology Grew Old 40

5 "D" is for Diffusion: In which Dr. Green Goes from Diffusion to Confusion 56

6 "M" is for Materialism: In which we Look into the Mind of a Cannibal 74

7 "G" is for Gender: In which Controversy is En-gendered 95

8 "M" is for Marx (Karl, that is): In which Mr. Doyle's Ancestors are Outed 115

9 "N" is for Neoevolutionism, and "A" is for Agency: In which the Crew Adapt to their Environment 132

10 "P" is for Postmodern: In which a Postmodern Kind of Truth is Told 150

Epilogue: In which Everyone Gets Just what they Get 163

Talking Points 167

Glossary 171

For Further Reading 178

Index 184

About the Author/Illustrator 187

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