Archaeology's Footprints in the Modern World

Archaeology's Footprints in the Modern World

by Michael Brian Schiffer


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What is the social value of archaeological research to present-day society? Michael Schiffer answers this question with forty-two case studies from a global perspective to demonstrate archaeology’s diverse scientific and humanistic contributions. Drawing on nearly five decades of research, he delivers fascinating yet nontechnical discussions that provide a deeper understanding of what archaeologists do and why they do it.

From reconstructing human evolution and behavior in prehistoric times to providing evidence that complements recorded history or debunks common legends, archaeologists help us understand our human past. They have also played crucial roles in developing techniques essential for the investigation of climate change along with tools for environmental reconstruction. Working for cities, tribes, and federal agencies, archaeologists manage cultural resources and testify in court. In forensic contexts, archaeological expertise enables the gathering of critical evidence. With engaging and lively prose, Archaeology’s Footprints brings to life a full panorama of contributions that have had an impact on modern society. 

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781607815334
Publisher: University of Utah Press
Publication date: 04/15/2017
Pages: 424
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Michael Brian Schiffer is a research associate at the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution. 

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables xi

Preface xiii

Introduction xv

I Evaluating Myths, Sagas, and Legends 1

1 Debunking the "Lost Races" Myth 5

2 Did the Norse Beat Columbus to the Americas? 10

3 King Solomon's Mines 15

II Complementing Historical Evidence 21

4 The Confederate Submarine, H. L. Hunley 25

5 The "'Poor" Potter of Yorktown, Virginia 32

6 Nuclear Archaeology in the Nevada Desert 37

III Enhancing Cultural Tourism and Heritage Awareness 43

7 Mount Vernon and George Washington's Whiskey Distillery 47

8 Kourion, a Roman Town in Cyprus 54

9 The World Heritage Site of Stonehenge 60

IV Collaborating with Communities 67

10 The Levi Jordan Plantation Project 71

11 The Ozette Site and the Makah Indian Nation 77

12 Thurstan Shaw and Nigeria's Enigmatic Bronzes 83

V Pursuing an Activist Agenda 89

13 Remembering the Ludlow Massacre 93

14 Advocating for Homeless People 98

15 Promoting the Electric Car Revival 104

VI Reviving Ancient Technologies 113

16 Chipped Stone Scalpels 117

17 Raised-Field Agriculture in the Andes 122

18 Ancient Pots and Modern Potters in the American Southwest 128

VII Managing Cultural Resources 135

19 Federal Agencies and Cultural Resource Management 139

20 Tribal Archaeology: The Seminole Indians of Florida 146

21 Archaeology in the City of Alexandria, Virginia 152

VIII Participating in Judicial and Diplomatic Processes 159

22 California Indians v. United States 163

23 Antiquities Acts and the Looting of the GE Mound 169

24 The International Antiquities Trade 174

IX Doing Fieldwork in a Forensic Context 179

25 Solving a Murder in the Midlands of England 183

26 A Nazi-Era Mass Grave in Ukraine 188

27 Recovery of Missing American Military Personnel 193

X Expanding the Social Sciences 197

28 The Garbage Project 201

29 The "Material-Culture Turn" in the Social Sciences 206

30 Undocumented Migrants Face the Arizona Desert 212

XI Contributing to the Physical Sciences and Engineering 217

31 The Mysterious Pigment: Maya Blue 221

32 Radiocarbon Dating 225

33 Nuclear Waste Disposal 231

XII Bolstering Biological Sciences 237

34 Origin of the Domesticated Sunflower 241

35 The Pygmy Rabbit and Applied Zoo archaeology 247

36 Microbiota of the Human Gut and Coprolites 253

XIII Furnishing Tools for Environmental Sciences 259

37 Tree-Ring Dating and Dendroclimatology 263

38 Dating Sunset Crater 269

39 Mass Extinctions of Animals: The Human Role 274

XIV Revealing Our Prehistoric Past 281

40 In the Beginning 285

41 From Foragers to Farmers 295

42 The Urban Revolution 303

Notes 311

References 335

About the Author 375

Index 377

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