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.