An up-to-date and critical analysis of how archaeologists study past societies, Archaeologies of Complexity addresses the nature of contemporary archaeology and the study of social change, and debates the transition from perceived simple, egalitarian societies to the complex power structures and divisions of our modern world.
Since the eighteenth century, archaeologists have examined complexity in terms of successive types of societies, from early bands, tribes and chiefdoms to states; through stages of social evolution, including 'savagery', 'barbarism' and 'civilisation', to the present state of complexity and inequality.
Presenting a radical, alternative view of ancient state societies, the book explains the often ambiguous terms of 'complexity', 'hierarchy' and inequality' and provides a critical account of the Anglo-American research of the last forty years which has heavily influenced the subject.
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Robert Chapman is Professor of Archaeology at the University of Reading.Review:
"[T]he best piece of sustained writing about archaeological theory that I have ever encountered. His coverage and critique of existing theories is comprehensive, informative and fair and his evaluations in my opinion couldn't be more on the mark. His review of terminology is particularly good and something the discipline has long been in need of; let's hope this approach is extended to all branches of the discipline....Finally, his gentle but sustained insistence that theory must be made applicable to archaeological data is an essential but long unheeded point....His book is an inspiration and a challenge to me."
-Bruce Trigger, McGill University
"Chapman has written a useful book that provides a convincing treatment of social evolution and the insights historical materialism can provide. The theoretical exposition is grounded in the author's thirty years of work."
-Robert M. Rosenswig, Yale University, 2004
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