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Framing Archaeology in the Near East

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This volume presents a series of studies by scholars working in Middle Eastern archaeology who actively apply social theory to interpret their fieldwork. It aims to highlight the value of using social theory in the interpretation of field work in a region where, traditionally, such approaches have not played a major role.

There are a number of factors that account for why social theory is often under-exploited by archaeologists in this part of the world. In many countries, where large numbers of the foreign archaeologists are involved, a division between those doing fieldwork and those undertaking archaeological interpretation can easily arise. Or, the lack of interest in social theory may stem from a legacy of positivism that overrides other approaches. There is also the fact that archaeology and anthropology often belong to separate academic departments and are considered two separate disciplines disconnected from each other. In some cases the centrality of historical paradigms has precluded the use of social theory. There are also divisions between universities and other research institutions, such as departments of antiquities, which is not conductive to interdisciplinary cooperation. This factor is especially debilitating in contexts of rapid destruction of sites and the exponential growth of salvage excavations and emergency surveys.

The papers integrate a wide range of perspectives including ‘New’ or ‘Processual’ archaeology, Marxist, ‘Post-Processual’, evolutionist, cognitive, symbolic, and Cyber- archaeologies and touch on many topics including 3D representation, GIS, mapping and social theory, semiotics and linguistics, gender and bioarchaeology, social and technical identities, and modern historical modellingy and social practices in Middle Eastern archaeology.

Published: Dec 20, 2016


Section Chapter Authors
List of Figures Ianir Milevski , Thomas Levy
List of Tables Ianir Milevski , Thomas Levy
Preface Ianir Milevski , Thomas Levy
Introduction: Social Theory and Archaeology Ianir Milevski , Thomas Levy
Chapter 1
Spacetime Mapping the Ancient Near East: Scalability and Seamlessness in Theory and Practice of Spatial Archaeology Michael Harrower
Chapter 2
Gender and the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East: Femininities and Masculinities Joanna Mardas
Chapter 3
Perspectives on Sex and Gender Questions through Burial Practices in Southern Central Asia during the Bronze Age Elise Luneau
Chapter 4
Semiotics in Action: Neolithic Imagery on the Move Patrycja Filipowicz
Chapter 5
The Role of Communication in Late 3rd Millennium BC Mesopotamian Society Supported by Cross-disciplinary Interpretative Tools Alessandro Di Ludovico
Chapter 6
Social Theories, Technical Identities, Cultural Boundaries: A Perspective on the “Colonial Situation” in Late Chalcolithic 3-5 Northern Mesopotamia Johnny Baldi
Chapter 7
New Social Perspectives on Intermediate Bronze Age Burial Practices at Jericho Aaron Greener
Chapter 8
The Kingdom of Edom? A Critical Reappraisal of the Edomite State Model Juan Manuel Tebes
Chapter 9
Biblical Archaeology, Processualism, Post-Processualism and Beyond Ianir Milevski , Bernardo Gandulla
End Matter
Index Ianir Milevski , Thomas Levy


The papers in this volume are of interest, both in terms of the presentation of new theory and new data.

The volume represents an interesting attempt at discussing different social theoretical approaches to diverse types of archaeological data (analysis of ancient landscapes, funerary contexts, pottery manufacture, written sources, and visual imagery) and aims to broaden the interpretation of archaeological fieldwork data.
American Journal of Archaeology

A timely and welcome volume... joins a growing number of works that have recently engaged with the fruitful connections between general social theory and the deep history of archaeological enquiry.
Cambridge Archaeological Journal