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Collins Dictionary of Archaeology.

Close second this quarter goes to PAUL BAHN for his edited Collins dictionary of archaeology (contributors: GINA L. BARNES, CAROLINE BIRD, PETER BOGUCKI, JAN WISSEMAN CHRISTIE, PHILIP DUKE, CHRISTOPHER EDENS, DAVID GILL, MARTHA GRAHAM, EDWIN HAJIC, JOHN HOFFECKER, CHRISTOPHER MEE, CHRISTOPHER SCARRE, KATHARINA SCHREIBER, STEVEN SNAPE, ANNE THAKERAY & JOYCE TYLDESLEY; viii+654 pages, line illustrations. 1992 Glasgow: HarperCollins; ISBN 0-00-434158-9 paperback |pounds~8.99) which aims to strike a fair balance between the various regions of the world and to be up-to-date. Disciplinary paranoids turn first, of course, to 'Archaeology'. It is 'the study of the past through the systematic recovery and analysis of material culture |q.v.~. The primary aims of the discipline are to recover, describe and classify this material, to describe the form and behaviour of past societies, and finally to understand the reasons for this behaviour. In the Old World the term tends to refer to the body of techniques and theories used in achieving these goals, whereas in the New World archaeology refers also to the subject matter. Archaeology is truly an interdisciplinary subject, and has borrowed many of its major theoretical and methodological concepts and approaches from history and anthropology' -- certainly more status-massaging east of the Atlantic than RENFREW & BAHN (& RIDLER)'s definition in Archaeology: aims, methods and practice (1991, reviewed in ANTIQUITY 66: 272-3) 'A subdiscipline of anthropology. . . '.

The tremendous range of sites, culture names and regional sequence terms and their excellent cross-referencing make this volume immediately indispensable -- a kind of world-Filip. BAHN anticipates inevitable charges of arbitrariness in entry choice, and individual voices and choices are identifiable (GILL gives psephoperibombetrios. Alas! There is no akinakes to truly rattle it with.) But there are also systematic biasses that need correction in a second edition. Disciplinary history is weak: entries on scholars are limited to 'those who are deceased: simply brain-dead did not count!' (q.v.), but the choice is odd and the content patchy. The entry for 'Kossinna' is risible and, to the east, Marr, Ravdonikas, Rostovtseff, Tallgren and Tretyakov are all out in the cold while the equally important 'Efimenko' and certainly less important 'Rogachev' and 'Boriskovskij' warm their toes -- a fact that belies a major area-period as well as historiographer bias: the latter were all excavators of Russian and Siberian Palaeolithic sites, entries for which abound (?HOFFECKER); Neolithic sites are also well-covered in central and eastern Europe (?BOGUCKI), but most major Bronze and Iron Age sites in Eurasia Septentrionalis Antiqua are absent.

BAHN is proud that he tried to balance the sexes of his contributors, ending up with 7:10 female:male ratio (himself included), but the substantive effect is intangible, with neither 'Feminist perspectives' nor 'Gender archaeology' warranting entries alongside 'Processual-', 'New-' and 'Post-processual archaeology'. Nevertheless, the presence of short entries of this nature make another very good reason for purchasing and urging students to do likewise. 'Warranting arguments', 'actualistic study', 'middle range theory', 'general systems theory' and 'behavioural-', 'symbolic-' and 'structural archaeology' all find a place. The cross-referencing is much poorer than for sites, but connexions are drawn: thus 'Marxist archaeology' is related to both processual and post-processual approaches, as Marxism 'has proven to be a popular and robust form of archaeological inference'.
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Author:Taylor, Timothy; Broodbank, Cyprian
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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