REVIEW: The History of Archaeology

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History-of-ArchaeologyThe History of  Archaeology
Paul Bahn (ed.)
Routledge, £24.99
ISBN 978-0415841726

This welcome book is essential  reading for archaeology  students, with 13 contributors exploring the discipline’s development  in different countries.  Bahn opens with a chapter on  pre-modern views of the past,  while Colin Renfrew concludes  with comments on the future  of archaeology.

For those with some  familiarity with archaeology in  Britain or Europe, the chapters  on the Far East, Africa, Russia,  and Latin America offer interesting,  sometimes surprising  comparisons. The development  of a Latin American  Social Archaeology during  the 1970s, closely linked with  political reactions against US  imperialism, is a reminder that  some archaeological practices  and interpretations are not  politically neutral.

The importance of this book  is that it underlines the fact  that interpretations of archaeological  data are not objective.  If that makes students of  archaeology a little more  circumspect about the next  textbook they read — so much  the better! Students really need  to know something about the  archaeologists behind a project  — for instance, who taught  them and where — before they  can evaluate the conclusions  those archaeologists present.

Review by Dr John Manle

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