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In Pursuit of the Past

Many consider Lewis Binford to be the single most influential figure in archaeology in the last half-century. His contributions to the "New Archaeology" changed the course of the field as he argued for the development of a scientifically rigorous framework to guide the excavation and interpretation of the archaeological record. In this book, first published nearly two decades ago, Binford provided students and general readers with an introduction to his challenging and provocative ideas about understanding the human past. Now available again, this important component of Binford's intellectual legacy will convey the drama and intellectual excitement of contemporary archaeology to a new generation of archaeologists and others interested in the field. Throughout the book, Binford questions old ideas and proposes new theories based on his comparative archaeological and ethnographic research in North America, Europe, South Africa, and Australia. A new afterword by Binford surveys the direction archaeology has taken since the publication of this book and shares his hopes for the future of the discipline.


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Lewis R. Binford is the author of "Constructing Frames of Reference: An Analytical Method for Archaeological Theory Building Using Ethniographic and Environmental Data Sets", "Debating Archaeology" and "Working at Archaeology".

Table of Contents

Foreword Editorial Note Author's Acknowledgments Preface 1. Translating the Archaeological Record PART I: WHAT WAS IT LIKE? 2. Man the Mighty Hunter? 3. Life and Death at the Waterhole PART II: WHAT DOES IT MEAN? 4. The Challenge of the Mousterian 5. An Archaeological Odyssey 6. Hunters in a Landscape 7. People in their Lifespace PART III. WHY DID IT HAPPEN? 8. On the Origins of Agriculture 9. Paths to Complexity Afterword to the 2002 Edition Notes on the Text Bibliography Index

About the Author

Lewis R. Binford is University Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at Southern Methodist University. He is author of Constructing Frames of Reference: An Analytical Method for Archaeological Theory Building Using Ethnographic and Environmental Data Sets (California, 2001), Debating Archaeology (1989), Working at Archaeology (1983), and many other books.


"Lewis Binford shows, by example, the strategies that are needed to turn the subject from a backward-looking curiosity into a scientific attack on our understanding of past human behavior." - Clive Gamble, Nature

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