Pub. Date:
University of Utah Press
Material Meanings: Critical Approaches to the Interpretation of Material Culture

Material Meanings: Critical Approaches to the Interpretation of Material Culture


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With firm roots in antiquarianism, archaeology began as the study and collection of things. Even today objects take center stage in many areas of archaeological inquiry. But the past few decades have seen a proliferation of the ways anthropological archaeologists analyze raw materials, tools, techniques, finished products, and discarded objects.

Material Meanings examines current approaches to material culture in the archaeological record from three perspectives: ethnoarchaeology and technological traditions; materials science; and theoretical approaches to materiality. The focus of this book is not on artifacts themselves but on the social context in which things are produced and in which they are given meaning; the technical choices of an artifact producer within a larger technical system; and their interpretation by modern researchers.

The chapters represent a broad range of theoretical perspectives, methods, and data sets. Several chapters consider methodological issues in reconstructing technical systems. Most contributions, however, apply this understanding to larger questions of social identity and ethnicity, emphasizing historical context or models of cultural process.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780874806083
Publisher: University of Utah Press
Publication date: 10/28/1999
Series: Foundations of Archaeological Inquiry Series
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Elizabeth Chilton is assistant professor of anthropology at Harvard University.

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Tables

1. Material Meanings and Meaningful Materials: An Introduction ~ Elizabeth S. Chilton
2. Of Paradigms and Ways of Seeing: Artifact Variability as if People Mattered ~ Marcia-Anne Dobres
3. Social Dimensions of Technical Choice in Kalinga Ceramic Traditions ~ Miriam T. Stark
4. One Size Fits All: Typology and Alternatives for Ceramic Research ~ Elizabeth S. Chilton
5. Testing Interpretative Assumptions of Neutron Activation Analysis: Contemporary Pottery in Yucatán, 1964–1994 ~ Dean D. Arnold, Hector A. Neff, Ronald L. Bishop,and Michael D. Galscock
6. Formal and Technological Variability and the Social Relations of Production: Crisoles from San José de Moro, Peru ~ Cathy Lynne Costin
7. On Typologies, Selection, and Ethnoarchaeology in Ceramic Production Studies ~ Philip J. Arnold III
8. Style in Archaeology or Archaeologists in Style ~ H. Martin Wobst
9. An End Note: Reframing Materiality for Archaeology ~ Margaret W. Conkey


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