The Present Past: An Introduction to Anthropology for Archaeologists (2nd Revised Edition)

This is an updated edition of Ian Hodder's original and classic work on the role which anthropology must play in the interpretation of the archaeological record.

There has long been a need for archaeologists and anthropologists to correlate their ideas and methods for interpreting the material culture of past civilizations. Archaeological interpretation of the past is inevitably based on the ideas and experiences of the present and the use of such ethnographic analogy has been widely adapted—and criticized, not least in Britain. In this challenging study, Ian Hodder questions the assumptions, values, and methods, which have been too readily accepted. At the same time, he shows how anthropology can be applied to archaeology. He examines the criteria for the proper use of analogy and, in particular, emphasizes the need to consider the meaning and interpretation of material cultures within the total social and cultural contexts. He discusses anthropological models of refuse deposits, technology and production, subsistence, settlement, burial, trade exchange, art form and ritual; he then considers their application to comparable archaeological data. Throughout, Ian emphasizes the need for a truly scientific approach and a critical self-awareness by archaeologists, who should be prepared to study their own social and cultural context, not least their own attitudes to the present-day material world.

Entangled: An Archaeology of the Relationships between Humans and Things

A powerful and innovative argument that explores the complexity of the human relationship with material things, demonstrating how humans and societies are entrapped into the maintenance and sustaining of material worlds

  • Argues that the interrelationship of humans and things is a defining characteristic of human history and culture
  • Offers a nuanced argument that values the physical processes of things without succumbing to materialism
  • Discusses historical and modern examples, using evolutionary theory to show how long-standing entanglements are irreversible and increase in scale and complexity over time
  • Integrates aspects of a diverse array of contemporary theories in archaeology and related natural and biological sciences
  • Provides a critical review of many of the key contemporary perspectives from materiality, material culture studies and phenomenology to evolutionary theory, behavioral archaeology, cognitive archaeology, human behavioral ecology, Actor Network Theory, and complexity theory


The Leopard's Tale: Revealing the Mysteries of Çatalhöyük

The Neolithic mound of Çatalhöyük, in central Turkey, shot to international fame in the 1960s when an ancient ‘town’—at 9,000 years old one of the earliest in the world—was discovered there together with wonderful wall-paintings and sculptures, many featuring images of leopards.

The excavations changed our understanding of the early farmers who started the road to complex civilization, but many questions were left unanswered until leading archaeologist Ian Hodder began a new campaign of research in the early 1990s. The Leopard’s Tale is the inside story of the remarkable advances made so far.

Archaeology Beyond Dialogue

How do global trends affect our view of the past?

World trends such as tourism, diaspora, and media globalization have led to new forms of relationship with the past. Yet these global processes also threaten to silence local or alternate claims to that past. How should archaeologists respond to this dispersal of archaeological knowledge and interest? Many have come to accept the need for dialogue. In Archaeology Beyond Dialogue, Ian Hodder argues that there is a need to do more than engage in dialogue with participating communities; archaeologists must consider the implications of globalizing trends for the way they excavate and analyze their data.

Over the last two decades, Ian Hodder has been a central figure in archaeological method and theory arguing for reflexive techniques that are more transparent, dialogical, and participatory. He explores these developments by examining the diversification of archaeology, the effect of a more global archaeology on archaeological methods and analysis, new theoretical trends in social archaeology, and new interpretations of prehistoric sites focusing on agency, power/knowledge, and subject position. Ian applies these concepts to the important site of Çatalhöyük in Turkey and the megaliths and monuments of the European Neolithic. He contrasts alternative approaches that claim, unsuccessfully in his view, to eschew meaning in the interpretation of the past.

This book should stir the archaeological community to a realization that it does not exist in a vacuum and that the part it plays affects many people: those with ancestral ties to the prehistoric inhabitants, those living in the general vicinity of the site, and the workers doing the excavation.

Reading the Past: Current Approaches to Interpretation in Archaeology (3rd Edition)

The third edition of this classic introduction to archaeological theory and method has been fully updated to address the rapid development of theoretical debate throughout the discipline. Ian Hodder and Scott Hutson argue that archaeologists must consider a variety of perspectives in the complex and uncertain task of "translating the meaning of past texts into their own contemporary language." While remaining centered on the importance of meaning, agency, and history, the authors explore the latest developments in post-structuralism, neo-evolutionary theory, and phenomenology.

Theory and Practice in Archaeology

In this latest collection of his articles, of which seven are written especially for this volume, Ian Hodder captures and continues the lively controversy of the 1980s over symbolic and structural approaches to archaeology. The book acts as an overview of the developments in the discipline over the last decade; yet Ian's brief is far wider. His aim is to break down the division between the intellectual and the "dirt" archaeologist to demonstrate that in this discipline more than any other, theory must be related to practice to save effectively our rapidly diminishing heritage.

The Domestication of Europe

The Neolithic saw the spread of the first farmers, and the formation of settled villages throughout Europe. Traditional archaeology has interpreted these changes in terms of population growth, economic pressures, and social competition, but in The Domestication of Europe Ian Hodder works from a new, controversial theory focusing instead on the enormous expansion of symbolic evidence from the homes, settlements, and burials of the period. Why do the figurines, decorated pottery, elaborate houses and burial rituals appear and what is their significance?

The author argues that the symbolism of the Neolithic must be interpreted if we are to understand adequately the associated social and economic changes. He suggests that both in Europe and the Near East a particular set of concepts was central to the origins of farming and a settled mode of life. These concepts relate to the house and home—termed `domus'—and they provided a metaphor and a mechanism for social and economic transformation. As the wild was brought in and domesticated through ideas and practices surrounding the domus, people were brought in and settled into the social and economic group of the village. Over the following millennia, cultural practices relating to the domus continued to change and develop, until finally overtaken by a new set of concepts which became socially central, based on the warrior, the hunter and the wild.

This book is an exercise in interpretive prehistory. Ian Hodder shows how a contextual reading of the evidence can allow symbolic structures to be cautiously but plausibly identified, and sets out his arguments for complex dialectical relationships between long-term symbolic structures and economic causes of cultural change.

Symbols in Action: Ethnoarchaeological Studies of Material Culture

Material culture—the objects made by man—provides the primary data from which archaeologists have to infer the economies, technologies, social organization, and ritual practices of extinct societies. The analysis and interpretation of material culture is therefore central to any concern with archaeological theory and methodology, and in order to understand better the relationship between material culture and human behaviour, archaeologists need to draw upon models derived from the study of ethnographic societies. First published in 1982, this book presents the results of a series of field investigations carried out in Kenya, Zambia, and the Sudan into the 'archaeological' remains and material culture of contemporary small-scale societies, and demonstrates the way in which objects are used as symbols within social action and within particular worldviews and ideologies.



Spatial Analysis in Archaeology (with Clive Orton)

This 1976 text is a pioneering study in the applications to archaeology of modern statistical and quantitative techniques. The authors show how these techniques, when sensitively employed, can dramatically extend and refine the information presented in distribution maps and other analyses of spatial relationships. Techniques of interpretation 'by inspection' can now be made more powerful and rigorous; at the same time, interest has turned from the examination of such sites and artifacts as 'things' to the spatial relationships between such things, their relationships to one another and to landscape features, soils, and other resources. This book was the first to apply the available techniques systematically to the special problems and interests of archaeologists. It also demonstrates to geographers and other social scientists who may be familiar with analogous applications in their own fields the exciting interdisciplinary developments this facilitates, for example in studies of exchange networks, trade and settlement patterns, and cultural history.