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Archaeological Theory: An Introduction Paperback – 3 Sep 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (3 Sept. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 063120296X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631202967
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.9 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 47,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"Johnson does not simply give an excellent introduction to the labyrinth of –isms that comprise contemporary archaeological theory. He also frames each competing theoretical strand in its historical context...Matthew Johnson has written a seminal textbook that is destined to become a classic and should become required reading for anyone wanting to become an archaeologist." American Journal of Archaeology. <!––end––>

"A very good introduction...It is written in an accessible, engaging style." Archaeology Ireland.

"Archaeological theory today consists of a bewildering variety of positions and perspectives, subtly interacting and ever changing. Mathew Johnson sheds considerable light on this complex landscape in his valuable new book Archaeological Theory: An Introduction. Written in an engaging and accessible manner, it provides an excellent account of the linkages between theory, practice, and intellectual context as it ranges from the origins of the New Archaeology to the emergence of contemporary positions such as feminism, poststructuralism, and phenomenology. I recommend it highly to students and colleagues alike." Robert W. Preucel, Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania.

"A genuinely accessible and lively ′route map′ to the developments in theory since the ′New Archaeology′ of the early 1960s ... This is a theoretical textbook that is a pleasure to read." Post–Medieval Archaeology.

From the Back Cover

Archaeological Theory: An Introduction is a book that has been needed for the last twenty years. It is an accessible, lively account of current thinking in archaeology.

Taking a historical approach and using clear and jargon–free language, the book examines the roots of current debates in the development of archaeology over the last thirty years. Mathew Johnson discusses different ways of approaching the Human Past, ranging from positivism to Postmodernism. He conveys to students that theory is important and can be exciting and stimulating. He reveals the historical origins of different schools of thought and sets theories against the practical problems they are intended to solve, as well as against wider developments in other disciplines.

The book discusses what the new Archaeology meant and means, what the differences are between processual and post processual archaeology, what cognitive archaeology is or might be, and addresses politics, gender and evolution within archaeological theory. The author outlines the social and political context of different intellectual tends and provides a route map to a complex and much debated area of the subject.

This introduction will be invaluable not only to students encountering archaeology for the first time, but also to archaeologists of all areas and periods needing a lucid and concise guide to current thinking and terminology.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 Feb. 2000
Format: Paperback
Johnson's book stands alone within the field of archaeological theory. It has the honorable title of being the most accessible book on archaeological theory, without doubt.
Contained within its pages is a text aimed at students, and those who need an easy to read guide to archaeological theory. It is written in a way as to explain why theory is relevant, something I questioned before reading this book.
Not only does he address all the relevant questions and themes in archaeological theory, but he does it in a manner that can be understood by someone with no grounding in theory whatsoever. Having some prior knowledge is useful, but unlike books such as Trigger's "A History of Archaeological Thought" (1989) it is not essential.
Obviously for a book of 200 pages, it does not go into huge detail about the topics it covers (pretty much all of them!) but it acts as a superb introduction, which is its purpose. Having read the relevant chapter in Johnson, one can move onto more detailed texts, which are far less accessible.
The only criticism I have for the book is its index, which could cover more terms that are mentioned in the book. However, with a good contents page, it is easy to find the chapter relating to the desired topic, and unlike most texts it is not a chore to read up to the point you need.
Therefore, this book is essential reading for anyone doing work on theory in archaeology, and should sit on the bookshelf of anyone who would ever need to know anything about the subject - something about just about every topic will be in there somewhere!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Butler on 15 Sept. 2005
Format: Paperback
Every student does it - you get your reading list and you go and buy everything on it, then you never even glance at most of the books again as they sit forlornly on the shelf, gathering dust.
Well, if this book is on your reading list then please, don't leave it on the bookshelf; pick it up and read it. Unlike most textbooks on the subject, this book is not overwhelmingly long. You can easily read a chapter on your chosen subject in depth in about half an hour - perfect for those last-minute essays!
Because of its size it is obviously not a comprehensive look at Archaeology - for that I suggest Renfrew and Bahn's Archaeology: Theory and Practice - but it is definitely one of the best starter books for students new to Archaeology.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 Aug. 2005
Format: Paperback
As an archaeology undergraduate, this is without doubt one of the best introductions to archaeological theory I have come across. Matthew Johnson uses a style that is both witty, incisive and informative. Complex issues are carefully explained and examples are critically chosen.
In addition to an entertaining and informative text, there is an extensive 'further reading' section which refers the reader to more detailed works, a large bibliography, detailed index and selective glossary.
I was a newcomer to the subject, but Johnson's style soon made me feel at home, and provided me with a springboard into further and more detailed reading. I would heartily recommend this book to students of archaeology at all levels.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. Gibson on 10 Mar. 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
And more. This is an excellent text book - easily the best I've purchased in my 3 years of university study.
Johnson covers the history of archaeological thought, the different theoretical schools in archaeology and anthropological/social sciences and everything else that you need to know about archaeological theory. All written in a very engaging and entertaining style; Johnson even manages to keep the normally dry topics interesting.
If you're an archaeology student, BUY THIS BOOK! You won't need any other on this topic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. Byrnes TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback
I returned to university to do a PhD in archaeology many years after having left cold wet caves for a nice warm corporate office in the field of telecoms. Getting back up to speed and finding out how much the world of archaeology had changed in the last decade was a huge priority. This book was recommended by one of the theory lecturers at the university as a good place to start, and it really couldn't be bettered. Not only did it remind me of everything that I had forgotten, but it updated me with all the ideas that had emerged since then and it served as a very valuable launch pad for other more detailed books. I would not have been without this text and I still refer to it.

It is well written, thankfully easy to digest and is punctuated with humour. Johnson makes it clear that this is a personal overview - he often refers to his own opinion about the views of others - but he gives good explanations of why he has a particular opinon.

I agree with the other reviews. An excellent place to begin and if you're an undergraduate don't let it sit on your shelf to gather dust! If you're serious about learning the foundations of archaeology it's the first one to open.
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