Death by Theory: A Tale of Mystery and Archaelogical Theory

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

American Antiquity
I would definitely use this book in an undergraduate course... I certainly plan to use it in a future upper-division course on history and theory of archaeology! Another added bonus to the book are the wonderful drawings by the author; Praetzellis has captured many core themes and issues with humor and clarity, and these illustrations — duly credited — are already in use for my 200 students this semester in introduction to archaeology!
— Margaret W. Conkey, University of California, Berkeley
Archaeology.About.Com
Thank God for Adrian Praetzellis who has given beginning archaeological students an entertaining way to pick up the basics [of archaeological theory]... It is a hoot, and sure to make a really difficult course somewhat easier to chart.
— K. Kris Hirst
European Journal Of Archaeology
With its ease of explanation and helpful illustrations, Death by Theory certainly has a place on any student's shelf as the sort of book that one dips into for a quick reference. More than that, its strength and charm lies in its presentation backed up by a solid treatment of archaeological theory and, in that way, it is the ideal introductory text.
— Mary-Catherine E. Garden, Dept. of Archaeology, Univ. of Cambridge, UK
Historical Archaeology
Archaeologists who have met Praetzellis will recognize his wry humor and puns throughout a teaching text in which the novel serves as a background for generalized presentations of theory. The theoretical discussions do not detract from the flow of the plot nor do they insult the reader's intelligence. They include a solid dose of real information and can lead to many valuable discussions...
This text can help develop student interest in archaeological theory and its history if instructors will give it a chance. While I felt that it would be best used for an undergraduate course, a second and third reading indicated that this easily read booklet would be suitable for graduate students, especially those who come to archaeology from other undergraduate majors with little or no background in anthropology.
— Lawrence E. Babits, East Carolina University
Lithic Technology
[Praetzellis] has managed to create a work that not only intrigues the reader but also provides a foundation for archaeological theory. . . . I would recommend it for use in an undergraduate seminar in archaeological theory, to help form the foundation for more in-depth study at the graduate level. . . . is an excellent read, and is recommended to anyone looking for a lighthearted, yet educational, book about archaeological theory.
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..
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742503588
  • Publisher: AltaMira Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2000
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Adrian Praetzellis is an archaeologist at Sonoma State University.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 "A" is for Arcaheology in which Dr. Green and Mr. Doyle are Enlisted Chapter 2 "A" is (also) for Artifact in which we learn that Sometimes a Rock is just a Rock Chapter 3 "B" is for Binford in which we Learn What's New about Archaeology Chapter 4 "C" is for Culture Process and "E" is for Ethnoarchaeology in which we Learn how the New Archaeology Grew Old Chapter 5 "D" is for Diffusion in which Dr. Green goes from Diffusion to Confusion Chapter 6 "M" is for Materialist in which we look into the mind of a cannibal Chapter 7 "G" is for Gender in which Controversy is En-gendered Chapter 8 "M" is for Marx (Karl, That is) in which Mr. Doyle's Ancestors are Outed Chapter 9 "P" is Postmodern in which a Postmodern Kind of Truth is Told Chapter 10 Epilogue: In which everyone gets just what they get Chapter 11 For further reading Chapter 12 Glossary Chapter 13 Talking Points

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