People and Things: A Behavioral Approach to Material Culture / Edition 1

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Overview

"The core of archaeology is the relationship between people and things. Left without informants and, in many cases, textual data, archaeologists strive to reconstruct past life through the window of artifacts: things made, used, and modified by individuals while participating in the activities of everyday life. According to behavioral archaeologists, our ability to understand the relationship between people and things in the present is the foundation for archaeological reconstruction of the past." "This comprehensive text sets forth a theory for understanding the relationship between people and things. Humans, whether in the distant past or in our current world, make choices while inventing, developing, replicating, adopting, and using their technologies. A wide arc of factors, from utilitarian to social and religious can affect these choices. The theoretical model presented here provides the means to understand how people, whether it be Paleolithic stone tool makers or 21st century computer designers and users, negotiate these myriad factors throughout the artifact's life history. While setting forth a behavioral theory, the book also engages the ideas of other competing theories, focusing especially on agency, practice, and selectionism." "Six case studies form the core of the book, and provide clear examples of how the theory can be applied to a range of artifacts and people from prehistoric North American ball courts and smudge pits to the first electric cars and 19th century electromagnetic telegraph technologies. This book provides the reader, for the first time between two covers, a wide array of examples that can guide their own work." Archaeologists and anthropologistswill find this book of interest as will historians, sociologists, philosophers of technology. This work will be an essential tool for new scholars as well as experienced members in the field of archaeology or any researcher who investigates technology.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780387765242
  • Publisher: Springer New York
  • Publication date: 3/7/2008
  • Edition description: 2008
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 170
  • Product dimensions: 9.21 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables

1 People and Things: A Performance-Based Theory 1

2 Behavior, Selection, Agency, Practice, and Beyond 17

3 The Origins of Pottery on the Colorado Plateau 37

4 Smudge Pits and Hide Smoking 53

5 The Devil is in the Details 67

6 Ritual Performance: Ball Courts and Religious Interaction 89

7 Social Theory and History in Behavioral Archaeology: Gender, Social Class, and the Demise of the Early Electric Car 107

8 Studying Technological Differentiation 125

References 145

Index 167

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