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Modern Material Culture - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780122935800, 9781483299204

Modern Material Culture

1st Edition

The Archaeology of Us

Editors: Richard Gould Michael Schiffer
eBook ISBN: 9781483299204
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 28th May 1981
Page Count: 347
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Table of Contents

List of Contributors


Method and Theory in Modern Material-Culture Studies

1 Archaeology's Relationship to the Present and the Past

2 The Modern Material-Culture Field School: Teaching Archaeology on the University Campus


Teaching Archaeological Fieldwork

Course Design

The Projects

Discussion and Conclusions

3 The Use of Material Culture in Diachronic Anthropology

The Use of Material Culture in Diachronic Anthropology

Social Change within Isolated Agricultural Communities

Comparative Mennonite Architectural Change

Social versus Chronological Tim

Results: Quantitative Comparison of Change Trends

An Explanation and Discussion of Rapid Internal Diffusion in Isolated Agricultural Communities

Summary and Discussion

4 A Manifesto for Modern Material-Culture Studies

Early and Late Americana

5 Waste Not, Want Not: An Ethnoarchaeological Study of Reuse in Tucson, Arizona

Preliminary Definitions

Background to the Reuse Project

The Reuse Project

Reuse Project Findings

Cross-Cultural Implications


6 Graffiti and Racial Insults: The Archaeology of Ethnic Relations in Hawaii

The Artifacts

Analysis of Content

Distribution of Sites

Graffiti Are Products of Liminal Spaces

Ethnographic Confirmation

Review and Summary

7 A Herbalist's Shop in Honolulu: Traditional Merchandising in a Modern Setting


The Research




8 Ideology and Material Culture

The Museum As ISA


9 Don't Fence Me In

10 The Cemetery and Culture Change: Archaeological Focus and Ethnographic Perspective

What Can Gravestones Tell Us about Community?

Why the Cemetery?

The Types of Data: Form and Substance

Pictures and Decorations




The Cemetery As a Model

Testing the Model Idea

The Quantitative Data

The Federal Period

The Civil War Period

The Industrial Expansion Period

The "Reform" Period

The "Lonely Crowd" Period

Concepts and Applications

"Miscellaneous" Observations

11 Pennies from Denver

The Data and Their Collection

Description and Analysis: Physical Attributes

Variation in Dates

Variation in Mint Location

Production, Distribution, Consumption

Decision-Making at the Mint

Measuring the "Need" for Pennies

Withdrawal from Circulation

Interpretive Models

Money as Ritual

Summary and Conclusion

12 The Raw and the Cooked: The Material Culture of a Modern Supermarket



Data Analysis


13 The Community Store: A Dispersal Center for Material Goods in Rural America



The Friendly Market

Discussion and Conclusions

14 A Microarchaeological View of Human Settlement Space and Function

The Goffman Model

The Field Study

Other Studies

Yellen's Study and Model

Redefinition of the Goffman Model

A General Model


15 The Archaeological Significance of Counting Houses: Ethnoarchaeological Evidence

Estimating Population from Domestic Structures

Mean Household Size through Time

The Significance of Counting Houses


Experimental Approaches

16 Experimentation with Modern Materials

17 A Simulative Experiment in Simple Product Manufacture

The Simulative Experiment

Summary of Observations

Discussion and Summary

18 Cumulative Graphs and Seriation

Traditional Technologies in the Present

19 Brandon Revisited: A New Look at an Old Technology

Brandon: The Setting

Fieldwork in Brandon

Flint Procurement




The Principle of Archaisms

The End is Near!

20 Making Stone Vases: Contemporary Manufacture of Material-Culture Items in Upper Egypt

Ancient Egyptian Use of Alabaster

Geologic Sources of Alabaster

Alabaster-Working in Ancient Egypt

Contemporary Alabaster Technology

Socioeconomics and Organization of the Workshop

Concluding Comments

21 A Study of the Work of a Modern Tanner in Ethiopia and Its Relevance for Archaeological Interpretation


Obsidian Scrapers and Ethiopian Tanners

Morphological Characteristics of Hide Scrapers

Analysis of Edge-Wear

The Chawa Homestead and Disposal of Obsidian Waste

Archaeological Evidence for Hide Scrapers in Ethiopia



Subject Index


Modern Material Culture: The Archaeology of Us presents the relationships between human behavior and materials to contemporary societies. This book discusses the various aspects of material behavior in contemporary human societies.

Organized into three parts encompassing 21 chapters, this book begins with an overview of the theory and teaching of the material culture approach. This text then presents ethnographic case studies that posit various general statements about human behavior in relation to materials as varied as herbs, coins, fences, graffiti, and domestic architecture. Other chapters consider a variety of topics ranging from mortuary practices and beliefs to the reuse and recycling of goods in the U.S. This book discusses as well the experimental approaches to material culture studies. The final chapter deals with the artifacts of aboriginal Australian settlements.

This book is a valuable resource for archeologists, anthropologists, and readers who are interested in human behavior in relation to materials.


No. of pages:
© Academic Press 1981
28th May 1981
Academic Press
eBook ISBN:

Ratings and Reviews

About the Editors

Richard Gould

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Hawaii at Manoa, U.S.A.

Michael Schiffer

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Arizona, Tucson, U.S.A.