Routledge Readers in Archaeology
series edited by David S. Whitley

Reader in Archaeological Theory: Post-Processual and Cognitive Approaches (ed. D.S. Whitley)
Routledge, London, 1998
xvi + 347 pp. (figures, index)
ISBN 0-415-14159-1
£55.00 (cloth), £16.99 (paper)

Reader in Gender Archaeology (eds K. Hays-Gilpin and D.S. Whitley)
Routledge, London, 1998
xvi + 383 pp. (figures, glossary, index)
ISBN 0-415-17360-4
£18.99 (paper)

reviewed by M.F. Lane


In the last few years, we have become accustomed to the inauguration of new archaeological series, sometimes in the form of monographs but more often as edited compilations. The bookstore shelves are packed with volumes in standard formats, identifiable at a glance only by a pinstripe or halftone shading differently hued from that of its siblings. Routledge has started yet another line in this growing community of samplers, its Readers in Archaeology, the first two of which are the Reader in Archaeological Theory: Post-Processual and Cognitive Approaches and the Reader in Gender Archaeology, published simultaneously this year. The editor of the series is David S. Whitley, a lecturer at the University of California at Los Angeles, the US representative to the rock art committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, and an archaeologist with some experience in cultural resource management (CRM).

One might wonder why one should select these two readers from the shelves, given the proliferation of other theoretical collations, and given that hardly a year has passed since Blackwell published R.W. Preucel and I. Hodder's Contemporary Archaeology in Theory and Practice: A Reader (1996; part of the look-alike Social Archaeology series). I think there are several reasons. Firstly, if we are to believe the prefaces of the volumes, the series editor intends for them to be introductory textbooks for 'students', particularly 'undergraduates and non-specialists'. Certainly, they would serve well as university textbooks, and the reference to non-specialists seems to be a gesture toward broadening the field of archaeological discourse or drawing in practitioners from other disciplines. Secondly, perhaps toward this latter end and in the interest of promoting debate, the Readers, especially that on the archaeology of gender, consist of articles by authors from a number countries, including, importantly, some from both sides of the Atlantic. These articles represent several subdisciplinary fields and different, even disparate, methodological and theoretical schools.

Each volume consists of a general introduction by the editors, followed by a several sections of two or three chapters each. Within this structure, the editors have attempted to arrange the material logically. The first few chapters outline the terms of discussion, and these are succeeded by chapters detailing arguments, instances, and differing interpretations, ending in essays on the deeper implication of the trends in question. Every section is also preceded by brief editorial commentary.

David Whitley is the sole editor of the Reader in Archaeological Theory. This volume comprises 16 articles, most of which date to the last decade. As Whitley makes clear in his preface, he has made a deliberate and, to my mind, admirable effort to make the majority of articles works by archaeologists working in North America, in order to combat what he perceives as a pervasive attitude among scholars on that continent of regarding post- processualism (including most 'cognitive' approaches) as a European -- mainly British -- trend of little relevance to their studies. Whitley is providing an important lesson in this, since such rejection belies the universalist pretensions of many processualists among them, based, as the dismissal often is, on arguments that the archaeological record or archaeological pragmatics are considerably different in North America. I think there may be a lesson for archaeologists in Britain and Europe, as well, to the extent that they have developed their own approaches in relatively limited regions and may have little notion of what is happening in North American archaeology, even when parallel critiques and theoretical debates have developed on the other side of the ocean.

Whitley recognises that 'post-processual' is a vague term, and he defines it broadly to include diverse 'interpretative', anthropologically oriented, and social historical archaeologies. He defines 'cognitive archaeology' so as to include structuralist theories. His introduction explains why he has paired post-processual and cognitive archaeologies in this Reader. Not only does he consider them inimical to the positivism which, as has been argued ad nauseam elsewhere, characterised so much of processual archaeology, but he also thinks that they both confront the special dangers of behaviourism. Behaviourism is the theory that human behaviour, including mental and emotional activity, is determined by the environment. He seems to believe, as a consequence, that there can be productive exchanges between the two approaches. Citing Hodder (1987) he argues that at the 'simplest level' post-processual trends represent archaeologists' efforts to catch up with changes in social and critical theory in the past few decades. If irony is to be found here, it is in Whitley's apparent regard of cognitive science as breaking ground only recently, while, in fact, there have been decades of cognitivist/rationalist critiques of empiricism (by Chomsky, Popper, and Quine, among others; q.v. Morick 1980). Although he does allude to Chomskyan transformational and generative theory as an American 'alternative' to French structuralism, post-processualists, for the most part, still ignore these critiques, the argumentative form and rhetoric of which are quite different from those which they have adopted.

Whitley remarks that cognitive approaches do not reject traditional scientific methodology, and he notes, as others have, that self-described post-processual and interpretative archaeologists are highly critical, if not dismissive, of 'science'. He seems to ally himself with the 'moderates' (p. 15 ff.) in the interminable debate about the degrees and pernicious potential of 'relativism' in post-processual archaeologies, opting for a grudging political compromise between a presumably totalitarian Science and thoroughly unaccountable relativism. In this respect, he disappoints me. Granted that there are irreconcilable differences between processual and post-processual approaches, he seems to be misled by caricatures of both of them, based on some of the more brainless and irresponsible comments of their respective exponents. Thus he has been brought to the naive position of trying to make both sides in the debate happy, by handling them in separate cages, rather than trying to discover points there might be in a dialectic between them, or simply rejecting one side (or both sides). Such attempts at compartmentalisation, like Pragmatists' sharp distinction between 'public' and 'private' life, promise unhappy results at best and politically combustible outcomes at worst.

Following the introductory chapter is a section comprising three much cited, if not well known, articles: Flannery and Marcus's 'Cognitive archaeology', Leone's 'Symbolic, structural, and critical archaeology', and Shanks and Hodder's 'Processual, postprocessual and interpretive archaeologies'. Some would consider the first of these rather processualist, given its emphasis on positive evidence and the boundaries it draws between cosmology, religion, ideology, and iconography (albeit treated in a 'holistic' manner), but the chapter goes some small way toward pointing archaeologists in the direction of the classes of evidence they should consider in reconstructing past ideologies and social institutions. The second chapter, originally published in 1986, is Leone's exhortation that we try constantly to tease the ideology out of our archaeological practices, especially as they are linked to colonialism and capitalism: 'to write the history of domination and resistance, which must by definition include the use of archaeology itself'. The last article sketches out the elements of the 'act of interpretation', as it pertains to material culture, and contains Shanks and Hodder's famous distinction, following Bhaskar (1979), between epistemic relativism (holding that knowledge is particular to a time and culture) and judgemental relativism (claiming that all forms of knowledge are equally valid), the latter of which they implicitly reject.

Hosler's 'Sound, color and meaning in metallurgy' starts the section entitled 'The Meanings of Things'. It is a well documented and clearly argued example of how, in human society, things both do something and mean something, and both their functions and meaning can be read in their various qualities. (She has presented her study of pre-Columbian West Mexico at length in a book [Hosler 1994].) In the same section, Clarkson's 'archaeological imaginings' of the 'geoglyphs' at Nazca in Peru almost take the form of confessions of a positivist. He criticises 'Euro-derived' concepts of landscape as an empty stage upon which social systems play themselves out, and of 'textuality', especially in a visual sense. In relation to this last point, he quotes Pickles (1992), who calls for a 'theory of writing and reading which moves beyond naive empiricism and representationalism' -- a call which I heartily applaud.

Two chapters on 'Prehistoric Cognition' follow. The first, by Mithen, outlines the 'modular' theory of cognition (or the theory of 'multiple intelligences') as developed by various cognitive scientists, and applies it to a critique of cognitive 'thresholds', as hypothesised by Binford (1985), Whallon (1989), and others, which are supposed to account for stepwise changes in human social organisation. He gives special emphasis to the role recognising 'visual symbolism', among other modes of intelligence that have gradually, each along its own trajectory, become integrated in human beings. Mithen's contribution is followed by Lewis-Williams's article on finding valid measures of analogy, in which he decides that the mental wiring that is the basis of sense-deprived hallucination is an 'enabling mechanism' which gives us a baseline for studying parallels between the forms of certain kinds of depiction in different societies at different points in time.

Works by Peebles and Cobb make up the section on 'Archaeology and History'. A quotation of Peebles's well crafted prose provides the premise of the first:

I shall argue that prehistory must be in some measure both art and science, in which the latter is embedded in the former. It can be more of one than the other, it can choose to be one rather than the other, but it cannot choose to be neither the one nor the other (183).

He goes one to say he believes that any 'hybrid' will be infertile, resulting only in relativism, solipsism, and nihilism. Peebles is an advocate of the French Annalistes school of historiography, which pays special attention to the multiple, embedded scales of human history, and his article is an interesting study in how what archaeologists do not read -- including the eponymous historical journal Annales -- shapes their discourse. Moreover, Peebles's quotation of an article by the archaeologist Leroi-Gourhan published in Annales in 1974 in French serves as a lesson in how archaeologists who read only what is in their native language can be similarly limited. The second article in the section is an application of Annaliste concepts of 'cyclical change' and the longue durée (ultra-lifetime changes, often not perceptible to individual) to theories of social reproduction in the prehistory of the mid-continental United States.

The two constituents of the 'Gendering the Past' section are also found in the Reader in Gender Archaeology: Watson and Kennedy's 'The development of horticulture in the eastern woodlands of North America' and Knapp's 'Boys will be boys: masculinist approaches to a gendered archaeology'. Watson and Kennedy's elegant piece first appeared in Gero and Conkey's Engendering Archaeology (1991). It uses the very logic of certain theories of male invention of horticulture in North America to support the case for women as innovators and cultivators. Basically, anyone who has not read it yet should; it is the kind of work that should make the most prudish positivists check their premises. Despite what one might make of its title, Knapp's contribution is an assault on 'remedial feminism' -- the substitution of a female-centred for a male-centred archaeology, or an 'add women and stir' treatment of the field -- which he opposes in favour of a more radical approach toward gender dynamics. He argues, inter alia, that if feminism has not made it incumbent upon us (especially men) to rethink masculinity, then it has made no real advances at all.

'Ideology and Social Theory' comprises articles by the volume's editor and by McGuire and Saitta. Whitley's piece on rock art in the American Great Basin makes several important points, which echo what Clarkson has written (see above), including the case that rock art is not representational but rather mediates social relations, that 'text' as a metaphor for examining material culture is problematic because 'reading' means different things to different people, and that landscapes can be highly conceptual, sometimes thought of as containing intangible 'powers' (as opposed to structured in an immediately visual manner, as some landscape archaeologists presuppose). McGuire and Saitta's re-examination of the terms of the debate in 1980s about social stratification and hierarchy in the Pueblo societies of the American South-West begins with a condemnation of the dichotomous thinking that results from processualism and offers as an alternative a sketch of dialectical epistemology and method. Following this tack and building upon earlier work by Saitta (1994), they suggest that 'communal hierarchies' without permanent exploitative 'classes' are possible in Pueblo and other societies -- a thesis that bears upon the article which he co-authored for this issue of assemblage.

The final section of the Reader in Archaeological Theory concerns 'Archaeology and Social Responsibility'. Whitley's preface to this section illustrates neatly the contradiction which processual archaeologists worked themselves into by trying to separate science from politics: even while they were insisting that their archaeology was 'value-neutral' and apolitical, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAPGRA) was passed, which discomfited many of them. Some interpreted it as vengeful measure by Native Americans or just a perverse exercise in making their lives difficult. Yet it was precisely because they tried to compartmentalise their lives -- raising a partition between their archaeological and political activities -- that the US Congress (not even Native Americans directly) enacted the NAPGRA. As Leone predicted some years ago (1991), their practice has become less and less socially relevant, in spite of their splendid scientific and technological raiment, because they continue to keep their heads in the sand.

The section itself includes Tilley's 'Archaeology as socio-political action in the present', originally published in 1989, which is at least as relevant today as it was nearly a decade ago. 'New Archaeology' or processual archaeology is 'scientistic', he argues, justified by 'instrumental' reason and driven by calculable rewards -- a profoundly technocratic, even capitalistic attitude toward the world, which is reflected in their models of prehistoric social interaction. This argument in itself, one might think, would militate against those who would insist that their science is 'neutral'. Processualist theories of social evolution driven by natural selection are uninteresting and unhelpful: 'adaptation' in social evolutionary theory is the 'cause, consequence, and outcome of change' (p. 313); societies are thought either to have adapted or not, which is not an explanation of social change. Tilley criticises musuems as receptacles of monotonous commoditised fragments of the past, out of context and presented as reified value. In some ways, I think that the situation has become worse. Under neo-liberal economic regimes, tourism and the 'heritage industry' have become increasingly important parts of the economic service sector. There are now 'heritage' sites where one can have all the superficial multiculturalism and crass populism a bonus cheque can buy: photographic essays on inner city housing projects inhabited by quaint 'ethnic minorities' (less race riots), carefully sanitised exhibits of 'everyday life' in different neighbourhoods (but not of urban planning for population control), and taped 'oral histories' of the when the city was a 'boom town' (where now the warehouses have been converted into guarded condominiums and the wharves are full of boutiques and 'sports bars'). To be sure, this is just commodity diversification, but the commodities are wrapped up in more glamorous packets and all the more insidious for it.

This final section (and the volume) ends with a short essay by Gary White Deer, a Choctaw author and Keeper of the nation's treasures. It begins with a poignant example of how the very people who respect Westminster Abbey as a sacralised archaeological site, in which even photography is forbidden, would deny the same lofty status to a Native American burial ground. He also brings up the contest in Alabama, USA, about whether Native American skeletal remains should be repatriated, the side opposed arguing that they might one day be used in cancer research. There are shades of the Human Genome Diversity Project, headed by Luca Cavalli-Sforza, well known in archaeological circles and notorious among indigenous peoples for suggesting their genomes be quarried and 'immortalised' before they become extinct (q.v. 'Patenting people' by the Rural Advancement Foundation International). If I have a quibble with this volume, it is because it does not include enough on CRM, the impact of archaeology on indigenous and other oppressed peoples, the archaeology of political economy, and (not least) the political economy of archaeology.

David Whitley had a collaborator in editing the Reader in Gender Archaeology: Kelley Hays-Gilpin, an associate professor of archaeology at Northern Arizona State University who specialises in ceramics and 'visual arts' in the South-West of the US. This Reader consists of 21 articles, divided into seven sections, which range from an introduction to 'Sex, Gender and Archaeology' to 'Human Origins', through several closely related sections pertaining to gender distinctions, dynamics, hierarchies, and end with examples of 'New Narratives [and] New Visions'. Following the prefatory acknowledgements is a short glossary spelling out some of the common gender-ethnographic terms used throughout the book. Hays-Gilpin and Whitley, in their introductory chapter, comment on the frustrating state of gender archaeology: although there have been several international conferences on the topic (Wedge in 1988, Chacmool in 1989, Boone and Women in Archaeology both in 1991, and Gender and Material Culture in 1994), little progress has been made in the field, and proponents find themselves levelling the same criticisms and repeating the same arguments. This is not because their concerns have been sufficiently answered, and the answers ignored. The binary classification of male/female, even for 'non-sexed' material culture, has not been roundly deconstructed in the strict sense: either man/masculinity has been considered dominant, or, in lieu of a corrective, the past is regarded as inhabited by genderless beings. Hays-Gilpin and Whitley suggest the expansion of 'womanist' studies in archaeology, subsuming both feminist agendas and gender studies, as a strategy for tackling this obstacle to the archaeology of gender. I hope that other works published in the last year, such as Nelson's Gender in Archaeology (1997) and Moore and Scott's Invisible People and Processes (1997), will help further to promulgate these issues and promote debate.

As if to illustrate how much remains to be done, the next chapter is Conkey and Spector's renowned 'Archaeology and the study of gender', first published in 1984. Like Tilley's (1989) article in the Reader in Archaeological Theory, this piece seems urgently relevant, though was written nearly 15 years ago. Conkey and Spector's article encompasses most of the issues that are revisited in later chapters of the Reader in Gender Archaeology. They point out that many archaeologists who would be careful in the use of ethnographic analogy when interpreting archaeological evidence are not so cautious when assuming gender associations. Part of the problem stems from the historic tendency in ethnography (and other fields) to regard the men or male activity as normative, complete, manifestly evident, and reliable. Ethnographers have dealt with women and female activity only as they relate to (or fall short of) that of their male counterparts -- a persistent problem, as seen today in women bearing their partners' names as epithets (whether surnames or references like 'Jack's Jill'). Part of the problem surely also stems from male dominance in the field of archaeology. Processualists have trammelled themselves in contradiction trying, in the first instance, to refrain from employing ethnographic analogies of social organisation and then treating sex/gender as an 'equal' and unproblematic factor in the creation of the archaeological record (q.v. Binford and Binford 1968). Furthermore, the authors argue, even if we are to treat gender roles as an 'elementary structure' of human society, it should not imply that they are static or the same in every place. In fact, our intimate (but sometimes silent) knowledge of the complexity of gender roles and relations seems to be basis for overcoming the much noted 'disjuncture' between small-scale fragmentary remains and theoretical, 'systemic' relationships. Conkey and Spector therefore proffer a summary 'task differentiation framework' in which the social, temporal, spatial, and material aspects of archaeological evidence are taken into account.

This fundamental chapter is followed by Gilchrist's 'Women's archaeology' in which she outlines the evidence of 'androcentrism' in archaeology and then marshals arguments with which to refute it. Importantly, she notes that many post-processualist concepts of 'agency' are based on modern masculine identity; although it is presented as an idea of a gender-neutral individual, it is still doubly in error by neglecting gendered experience and making assumptions about contemporary, individualistic identity. She argues that gender must be considered a central concept, or 'structuring principle', in archaeological theory. Wylie's contribution to this volume 'The interplay of evidential constraints and political interests' -- which, of all the chapters, interested me the most -- builds upon Gilchrist's themes. She asks incisive questions: why has gender archaeology appeared at this juncture (that is, what are the institutional conditions)? to what extent is the 'relativism' espoused by many post- rocessualists a privilege sustained by their institutions? how do data become 'theory-laden' as post-processualists insist? and what reconciliation (perhaps dialectic) can be found between 'hyperrelativism' and empiricist 'objectivism'? The issues raised are too many to be treated here; suffice it to say that she makes many penetrating critiques and offers recommendations which must be taken seriously.

The Reader then turns to the Pleistocene and the origin of anatomically modern humans, which is a topic fraught with normative and naturalistic assumptions about sex/gender roles. Zihlman's chapter on 'Woman the gatherer' argues straightforwardly that women performed tasks such as scavenging and foraging which led to classic physiological changes in early hominids, contra those who cling to the 'man the hunter' model of human social evolution. This chapter is followed by McKell's study the manufacture and use of stone tools among indigenous Australian women. She reinforces the argument that the 'man the hunter' model, particularly as applied to the interpretation of stone tools, is a projection of the modern notion of 'man the breadwinner', and she too laments how little progress has been made in gender archaeology since its rise in the 1980s, and how the removal of sexist language in archaeological writing has left much of archaeological theory genderless. I had a good laugh at the beginning of Falk's article on 'Brain evolution in females: an answer to Mr Lovejoy', which completes the section, since he does a fine job ridiculing Lovejoy's (1981) argument that hominid bipedalism evolved because men had hang-ups about monogamy and thus had to exercise 'copulatory vigilance'. This argument probably reveals more about Lovejoy and his peers than about the development of humans. In fact, it does not stand up to the evidence, and Falk goes on to explain sexual dimorphism alternatively in terms of the evolution of brain 'wiring', the origins of which he traces deep into mammalian prehistory. Implicit in Falk's work is that 'deep' prehistory has been easily naturalised, though it is no less speculative than most ethnoarchaeological pursuits.

The next four sections -- on division of labour by gender, gender dynamics, ideology, and hierarchy, respectively -- blend one into the next, to the extent that their separation appears a little artificial. Spector's (1983) article on male/female task differentiation among the Hidatsa of North America leads the procession. It is a re-analysis of nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century (male-biased) ethnographic reports, and her 'mapping' of activities extrapolated from the descriptions is the basis of her and Conkey's task differentiation framework mentioned above. Sassaman's chapter starts from the observation that archaeologists' shift from lithics to pottery as chronological markers between earlier and later prehistory biases the interpretation of gender relations at sites and site 'types'. He then assumes (precariously) that the change from 'formal biface' to 'expedient' stone tools correlates with the appearance of pottery -- presumed to be women's technology -- and he links expedient tools to women's increased mobility in a changing Holocene landscape, as access to subsistence resources and access to lithic resources were disjoined. Watson and Kennedy's (1991) article discussed above rounds off the section on division of labour.

The section on gender dynamics begins with Galloway's 'Where have all the menstrual huts gone?', which, to start with, points out that 'huts' is an instance of sexist language and that in various societies these structures are anything but hovels. She challenges the idea that menstrual houses are necessarily related to matrilineal/matrilocal societies and she questions archaeologists' silence toward what women have done in menstrual seclusion, and their tendency to ascribe a specifically feminine quality only to 'anomalous' structures. McCafferty and McCafferty's 'Spinning and weaving as female gender identity in Post-Classic Mexico' proposes a discourse on female power and symbolism like Hodder's interpretation of communities the Baringo region of Kenya (Hodder 1982). Unlike many of the ethnographic studies in the Reader in Gender Archaeology, theirs does not privilege 'historical texts'; the authors are aware of the biases inherent in them, and they examine pictorial evidence as well as written accounts. Gibbs's concluding chapter concerns identifying gender in the archaeological record. She notes four major historical biases: the presumed universal evolution of patrilineal societies from matrilineal societies; the 'man the hunter model'; the definition of women by their reproductive capacity and men by their social roles; and the acceptance of a domestic/public divide corresponding to female and male theatres of activity. She basically makes that case that in the Late Bronze Age of Denmark there was a phase of domestic/female resistance against male-driven social change, rooted in particularly female sources of power. She gives primacy to social relations (organisation and interaction) over hierarchy and stratified, abstract 'power'.

The section of the iconography and ideology of gender consists of just two articles. Russell sums up all the critiques of the cult of the 'Mother Goddess', from the romanticism of some feminists to the sexual fantasies of male Victorian scholars. With regard to the Palaeolithic 'Venus' evidence, her critique is best summed up in her trenchantly asking why mobile hunter-gatherers in the Ice Age would have worshipped fecundity and the production of more children. Guillén considers women, rituals, and social dynamics among the Early and Middle Pre-Classic inhabitant of Chalcatzingo, Mexico. She notes that 'cult' has become a catch-all term for that which has no obvious function, and she suggests that the clay figurines of women found at Chalcatzingo may have been used in 'life-crisis' ceremonies, such as conducted at menarchy or menopause.

The editors' foreword to 'Power and Social Hierarchies' usefully frames the current debate in gender archaeology in terms of those who follow Engels (1972) in tracing the origins of gender hierarchy to the rise of state societies versus those who see it as a universal phenomenon. Nelson's contribution to this section explores some of the possible relations between gender hierarchy and the problematic concept of 'state', drawing on the evidence of Silla society in Korea during the first millennium CE. She describes how women in the Old Silla period travelled independently, held public office, and were shown filial respect. Men made claims to rulership through women's blood lines, and Nelson tentatively concludes that gender inequality can arise well after the formation of what we call the 'state'. However, she astutely qualifies her conclusion by remarking, 'A basic problem of the Silla case is the reification of the state in the literature on cultural evolution' (331). The two other articles in this section are useful, if less remarkable: Cohen and Bennet proffer skeletal analysis and an 'independent' means of corroborating arguments about gender hierarchies, and they sum up the methods available and provide a 'sampler' of evidence from diverse regions; Dommasnes examines Norwegian Viking 'grave goods' for signs of gender hierarchy, but her analysis is perhaps vitiated by an over-reliance on a Binfordian representational view of material culture (q.v. Binford 1971), and she seems unfamiliar with the numerous recent critiques of this approach.

The final section 'New Narratives, New Visions' is an delectable exploration of ways of changing the rhetoric and emphasis of archaeological description and interpretation in ways concordant with an 'engendered' archaeology. Emma Lou Davis's 'The ancient Californians', her look back on excavating the Palaeo-Indians sites of China Lake -- first published in 1975 -- is wonderfully written, full of the vivid narrative, metaphor, irony, person, and reflection on methodology to which so many post-processualists aspire today and yet fail to attain. This is followed by excerpts from Spector's similar venture, 'What this awl means', a well known monograph published in 1993. One wonders whether Spector is over-represented in this Reader in Gender Archaeology, or whether, sadly, too few other people are devoting attention to the issues she has raised. Knapp's 'Boys will be boys', published in the Reader in Archaeological Theory also (see above), concludes the volume and points to new horizons for research.

I feel both the Routledge Reader in Archaeological Theory and the Reader in Gender Archaeology accomplish their aim of being introductory textbooks. They are chrestomathies, even: the best of what is on offer in archaeological theory today. They should provide ample material for discussion for a new generation of archaeologists and perhaps provoke productive debate between archaeologists, in Europe and America at least, who have isolated themselves too long in their specialities or dug their trenches too deep. The Reader in Gender Archaeology is the more important of the two volumes, if I am correct in judging the way in which Wylie, chiefly, and some or her colleagues take to task certain post-processualists for their neglect of gender-oriented interpretations, as well as for the privilege implied by their predominantly negative critiques and by their particularism, of the sort helpful only in seeking unique dissertation topics. I hope all the articles in this volume will finally achieve the respect that many of them have long deserved. Perhaps they will be bolstered by the recent publication of other 'womanist' archaeologies.

I have a few minor complaints about both volumes that may seem trivial to some. They appear to have been collated in haste: more attention seems to have been paid to typography than to proofreading; citations are missing from bibliographies; and articles seem to have been published in their original form (thus, for example, the misleading reference to other works 'in this volume' in Dommasnes's chapter). However, I expect good things from the Routledge Readers. Archaeological issues are hardly exhausted by the two volumes published so far. Given the unhappy compromises of the Kyoto Conference on the global climate and the recent financial crises in Russia and South-East Asia, I would suggest a further volume on (non-deterministic) approaches to environmental and economic archaeology. The past is present, even if fragmented by sound bites and advert-length memories.

Works cited
Binford, L.R. 1971. Mortuary practices: their study and their potential. American Antiquity 36: 6-29.

Binford, L.R. 1985. Human ancestors: changing views of their behavior. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 1: 5-31.

Binford, S.R. and L.R. Binford. 1968. Stone tools and human behaviour. Scientific American 220: 70-84.

Engels, F. 1972 (1884). The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. New York: International Publishers.

Hodder, I. 1982. Symbols in Action. New Directions in Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hodder, I. 1987. Foreword. In Re-Constructing Archaeology: Theory and Practice, 1st ed. (M. Shanks and C. Tilley). London: Routledge, pp. xv-xvi.

Hosler, D. 1994. The Sounds and Colors of Power: The Sacred Metallurgy of Ancient West Mexico. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Lovejoy, C.O. 1981. The origin of man. Science 211: 341-50.

Moore, J. and E. Scott (eds) 1997. Invisible People and Processes: Writing Gender and Childhood into European Archaeology. London: Leicester University Press.

Morick, H. (ed.) 1980. Challenges to Empiricism. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing. S.M. Nelson. 1997. Gender in Archaeology: Analyzing Power and Prestige. London: Altamira Press.

Pickles, J. 1992. Text, hermeneutics and propaganda maps. In Writing Worlds: Discourse, Text and Metaphor in the Representation of Landscape (eds T. Barnes and J.S. Duncan). London: Routledge, pp. 193-230.

Preucel, R.W. and I. Hodder (eds). 1996. Contemporary Archaeology in Theory and Practice: A Reader. Social Archaeology (ser.). Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Saitta, D.J. 1994. Class and community in the prehistoric Southwest. In The Ancient Southwestern Community: Models and Methods for the Study of Prehistoric Social Organization (eds W. Wills and R. Leonard). Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

Whallon, R. 1989. Elements of cultural change in the later Palaeolithic. In The Human Revolution: Behavioural and Biological Perspectives on the Origins of Modern Humans (eds P. Mellars and C. Stringer). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 433-54.

About the reviewer
Michael Lane is the Executive and Managing Editor of assemblage issue 4. He is a second-year PhD student in of Department of Archaeology and Prehistory at the University of Sheffield, studying text as material culture and the practices of writing and reading in various social arenas of the Bronze Age Aegean. He is many other things besides.

He may be reached by e. mail on <> or <>.

Copyright © M.F. Lane 1998


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