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Historical archaeology

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A monument at Ludlow Colorado to the miners who were massacred by the National Guard while on strike. Ludlow was the site of lots of historical archaeology[1]

Historical Archaeology is the study of humans in the past that through artifacts, that overlaps with recorded history. Historical archaeologists look at both the material uncovered by archaeologists, as well as historical records in order to make guesses about what happened in the past with the information found. Historical Archaeology is often done by two main groups: professionals and academics.

History[change | change source]

Archaeology at Jamestown, A colonial site in Virginia

Historical archaeologists use many of the same methods of study that other archaeologists do, but they often focus on the recent past. Historical archaeology started mostly in the United States in order to study what has happened since the arrival of Europeans. Many of the first historical archaeology projects were done in sites that were related to Colonial America.[2] Since then, historical archaeology has gone on to cover many different areas of study both theoretical and geographical which are covered below.

Theoretical approaches[change | change source]

Common theoretical approaches that historical archaeologists use include:

Marxism[change | change source]

This theoretical work draws on the works of German philosopher Karl Marx. It is popular in the field because it thinks about the importance of power and class. In historical archaeology this is useful for studying issues such as labor and studies have been done in sites of labor conflict such as Ludlow, Colorado[1] and Mono Mills, California.[3]

Feminism and indigenous thought[change | change source]

Feminist movements made their way into the work of many historical archaeologists by making the research of historical archaeologists more about gender, sexuality, and reproduction.[4] There has also been inclusion of the thought of indigenous peoples to make archaeological theory less colonial.[5][6] Studies focused on ideas found in Feminism have been done at places such as plantations [7] as well as in colonial San Francisco,[8] and studies using indigenous world views are common throughout the United States.

Heritage and community[change | change source]

Historical archaeologists that do these things usually try to get people in the community much more involved in the archaeological projects they are working on and preserving heritage for future generations.[9] This also means preserving buildings and sites that are architecturally and culturally significant.

Contemporary archaeology[change | change source]

This type of archaeology is focused on using theory and methods common in historical archaeology to look at artifacts from the last twenty years. This is more common in areas experiencing political, social, or economic problems. Contemporary Archaeology also deals with issues such as abandonment and modern Ruination.[10]

An early example of contemporary archaeology is the Tucson Garbage Project begun in the early 1970s and expanded to other cities. To a large extent, the garbage project is about understanding current use and waste of consumer goods.[11]

Geographical distribution[change | change source]

Historical archaeology is strongest in North America where it began. In the United States studies that are popular include African diaspora in the American South[12] and Northeast, Asian diaspora in the West,[13] and Colonial America in the Northeast.[14] Historical archaeology has now spread to all other parts of the world but is strongest in North America, Latin America, and other colonized areas.[15]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 McGuire, Randall (2009). The Archaeology of Class War. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.
  2. Little, Barbara (2007). Historical Archaeology: Why the Past Matters. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.
  3. Sunseri, C.K. (2020). "2020 Archaeologies of Working-Class Culture and Collective Action". International Journal of Historic Archaeology. 24: 183–202. doi:10.1007/s10761-019-00508-9. S2CID 254547378.
  4. Voss, Barbara L. (2000). "Feminisms, Queer Theories, and the Archaeological Study of Past Sexualities". World Archaeology. 32 (2): 180–192. doi:10.1080/00438240050131171. S2CID 144214580.
  5. Laluk; et al. (2022). "Archaeology and Social Justice in Native America". American Antiquity. 87 (4): 659–682. doi:10.1017/aaq.2022.59. S2CID 251707379.
  6. Townsend, R; Sampeck, K; Watrell, E (2020). "Digital Archaeology and the Living Cherokee Landscape". International Journal of Historical Archaeology. 24 (4): 969–988. doi:10.1007/s10761-019-00534-7. S2CID 254539731.
  7. Barnes, Jodi (2021). "Behind the Scenes of Hollywood: An Archaeology of Reproductive Oppression at the Intersections". American Anthropologist. 123: 9–35. doi:10.1111/aman.13511. S2CID 229491499.[permanent dead link]
  8. Voss, Barbara (2008). "Domesticating Imperialism: Sexual Politics and the Archaeology of Empire". American Anthropologist. 110 (2): 191–203. doi:10.1111/j.1548-1433.2008.00025.x.
  9. Miroff, Laurie, E; Versaggi, Nina, M (2020). "Community Archaeology at the Trowel's Edge". Advances in Archaeological Practice. 8 (4): 398–408. doi:10.1017/aap.2020.28. S2CID 199957145.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. Khatchadourian, Lori (2022). "Life Extempore: Trials of Ruination in the Twilight Zone of Soviet Industry". Cultural Anthropology. 37 (2): 317–348. doi:10.14506/ca37.2.10.
  11. William Rathje & Cullen Murphy, Rubbish!: The Archaeology of Garbage; ISBN 0-06-016603-7; HarperCollins (hardback, 1992)
  12. Flewellen, Ayana Omilade (2022). "Dress and Labor: An Intersectional Interpretation of Clothing and Adornment Artifacts Recovered from the Levi Jordan Plantation". Archaeologies: Journal of the World Archaeological Congress. 18 (2): 200–234.
  13. Fong, Kelly 方少芳; Ng 伍穎華, Laura W; Lee 李紫瑄, Jocelyn; Peterson 孫美華, Veronica L.; Voss, Barbara L. (2022). "Race and Racism in Archaeologies of Chinese American Communities". Annual Review of Archaeology. 51: 233–250.
  14. Deetz, James (1996). In Small Things Forgotten. Garden City: Anchor Press.
  15. Fracchia, Adam (2020). Oser, Charles; Zarankin, Andrés; Funari, Pedro Paulo; Lawrence, Susan; Symonds, James (eds.). "A brief History of Historical Archaeology". In the Routledge Handbook of Global Historical Archaeology. doi:10.4324/9781315202846-2. S2CID 225466174.