Archaeology and text.

Moreland, J.

Paperback. 144 pp. Duckworth Debates in Archaeology. Bristol Classical Press 2001.

This book challenges traditional assumptions about the relationship between History and Archaeology by re-evaluating the role of artefacts and documents in the reconstruction of the historical past. Previous attempts to create a rapprochement between the disciplines have been undermined by a tendency to see artefacts and documents simply as sources of information about the past. The central argument of this concise and original book is that both must be seen in terms of their efficacy in the past, in particular as technologies of power and resistance.
Drawing upon recent work in theoretical archaeology, and on case studies from the prehistoric Near East, medieval Europe, early modern North America, and Mesoamerica, John Moreland challenges many of the assumptions which have hitherto underpinned archaeological research in historic periods, arguing that we will only fully understand these pasts when we begin to appreciate the historically specific ways in which both documents and artefacts were 'activated' in the reproduction and transformation of power and identity. A concluding chapter warns that any contribution these arguments may make to the better understanding of the historical past will be negated if we fail to appreciate the very real dangers posed, to all the peoples of the past, by the recent 'linguistic turn' in both disciplines.
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