Bookshelf: A selection of recent publications from the Institute of Archaeology

UCL Institute of Archaeology – Left Coast Press publications

Since 2006, Institute of Archaeology books have been published by Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, California (distributed via their European distributor, Eurospan). Left Coast Press also distributes older Institute of Archaeology publications. Left Coast Press publishes two series of books for the Institute: the General Series (series editor Ruth Whitehouse) and the Critical Cultural Heritage sub-series (series editor Beverley Butler). Since the publication of Archaeology International 16, six new books have been published.

Recent publications in the Critical Cultural Heritage sub-series include:

The Archaeology of African Plant Use: Proceedings of the 5th International Workshop of African Archaeobotany.

Chris J Stevens, Sam Nixon, Mary-Anne Murray & Dorian Q Fuller (eds) 2013 The Archaeology of African Plant Use: Proceedings of the 5th International Workshop of African Archaeobotany.

This book offers the first major synthesis of African archaeobotany in decades, focussing on Palaeolithic archaeobotany and the relationship between agriculture and social complexity. It explores the effects that plant life has had on humans as they evolved from primates through the complex societies of Africa, including Egypt, the Buganda Kingdom, southern African polities and other regions. With over 30 contributing scholars from 12 countries and extensive illustrations, this volume is an essential addition to our knowledge of humanity’s relationship with plants.

Mediterranean Voyages: The Archaeology of Island Colonisation and Abandonment.

Helen Dawson 2013 Mediterranean Voyages: The Archaeology of Island Colonisation and Abandonment.

Islands are ideal case studies for exploring social connectivity, episodes of colonisation, abandonment and alternating phases of cultural interaction and isolation. Their societies display different attitudes toward the land and the sea, which in turn cast light on group identities. This volume advances theoretical discussions of island archaeology by offering a comparative study of the archaeology of colonisation, abandonment and resettlement of the Mediterranean islands in prehistory. This comparative and thematic study encourages anthropological reflections on the archaeology of the islands, ultimately focussing on people rather than geographical units, and specifically on the relations between islanders, mainlanders and the creation of islander identities. This book has significance for scholars interested in Mediterranean archaeology, as well as those interested more broadly in colonisation and abandonment.

Wrapping
and Unwrapping Material Culture: Archaeological
and Anthropological Perspectives.

Susanna Harris & Laurence Douny (eds) 2014 Wrapping and Unwrapping Material Culture: Archaeological and Anthropological Perspectives.

This innovative volume challenges contemporary views on material culture by exploring the relationship between wrapping materials and practices and the objects, bodies and places that define them. Using examples as diverse as baby swaddling, Egyptian mummies, Celtic tombs, lace underwear, textile clothing and contemporary African silk, the dozen archaeologist and anthropologist contributors show how acts of wrapping and unwrapping are embedded in beliefs and thoughts of a particular time and place. Employing methods of artefact analysis, microscopy and participant observation, the contributors provide new insights into material culture and its relationship to cultural meaning.

Reanimating Industrial
Spaces: Conducting Memory Work in Post-industrial
Societies.

Hilary Orange (ed) 2014 Reanimating Industrial Spaces: Conducting Memory Work in Post-industrial Societies.

This book explores the relationships between people and the places of former industry, through approaches that incorporate and critique memory-work. The text considers four broad questions: what is the relationship between industrial heritage and memory; how is memory involved in the process of place-making re industrial spaces; what are the strengths and pitfalls of conducting memory-work; and what can be learnt from cross-disciplinary perspectives and methods? The contributors have created a set of diverse case studies (including iron-smelting in Uganda, Puerto Rican sugar mills, concrete factories in Albania) which examine differing socio-economic contexts and approaches to industrial spaces both in the past and in contemporary society. A range of memory-work is also illustrated, from ethnography, oral history and digital technologies to excavation, archival and documentary research.

Ethnic Ambiguity and the African Past: Materiality,
History, and the Shaping of Cultural Identities.

François G Richard & Kevin C MacDonald (eds) 2014 Ethnic Ambiguity and the African Past: Materiality, History, and the Shaping of Cultural Identities.

This book considers ethnicity in ancient Africa as both social fact and political artefact. Is ethnicity a useful analytic? What can archaeology say about the kinds of deeper time questions which scholars have asked of identities in Africa? Eleven authors engage with contemporary anthropological, historical and archaeological perspectives to examine how ideas of self-understanding, belonging and difference in Africa were made and unmade. They examine how these intersect with other salient domains of social experience: states, landscapes, discourses, memory, technology, politics and power. The various chapters cover broad geographic and temporal ground, following an arc across Senegal, Mali, Nigeria, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and East Africa, from prehistory to the colonial period.

Living in a Landscape of Scarcity:
Materiality and Cosmology in West Africa.

Laurence Douny 2014 Living in a Landscape of Scarcity: Materiality and Cosmology in West Africa.

In her close ethnography of a Dogon village of Mali, Laurence Douny shows how a microcosmology develops from people’s embodied daily and ritual practice in a landscape of scarcity. Viewed through the lens of containment practice, she describes how they cope with the shortage of material items central to their lives—water, earth, and millet. Douny’s study is an important addition to ecological anthropology, to the study of West African cultures, to the understanding of material culture, and to anthropological theory.

Many other books have been published by Institute staff between 2013 and 2014; some of these are featured below:

The Origins of Monsters:
Image and Cognition in the First Age of Mechanical
Reproduction (The Rostovtzeff Lectures).

David Wengrow 2013 The Origins of Monsters: Image and Cognition in the First Age of Mechanical Reproduction (The Rostovtzeff Lectures). Princeton: Princeton University Press.

It has often been claimed that “monsters”--supernatural creatures with bodies composed from multiple species--play a significant part in the thought and imagery of all people from all times. The Origins of Monsters advances an alternative view. Composite figurations are intriguingly rare and isolated in the art of the prehistoric era. Instead it was with the rise of cities, elites, and cosmopolitan trade networks that “monsters” became widespread features of visual production in the ancient world. Showing how these fantastic images originated and how they were transmitted, David Wengrow identifies patterns in the records of human image-making and embarks on a search for connections between mind and culture. Examining the reasons behind the dissemination of monstrous imagery in ancient states and empires, The Origins of Monsters sheds light on the relationship between culture and cognition.

Prehistoric, Roman and Saxon Discoveries
near Thorpe and Virginia Water.

Rebecca Lambert, Andrew Margetts & Jane Robertson 2013 Prehistoric, Roman and Saxon Discoveries near Thorpe and Virginia Water. SpoilHeap Occasional paper 3. Dorchester: SpoilHeap Publications.

A wealth of archaeological information has been revealed by excavations in two areas, at St Ann’s Heath School, Virginia Water and at Coldharbour Lane, Thorpe, both near to the Redbourne as it approaches the River Thames. These two areas produced important evidence for Mesolithic and Neolithic activity, including (at Coldharbour Lane) ritual activity preceding an Early Bronze Age ring ditch, with crouched inhumations at the same location. Later Bronze Age and Roman field systems and significant Iron Age and Saxon settlement evidence, with associated artefact and ecofact assemblages complete the picture of recurring use of the site in antiquity due to its advantageous situation.

Rapa Nui and the Easter
Island Exploitation Company.

Miguel Fuentes (ed) 2013 Rapa Nui and the Easter Island Exploitation Company. Santiago: Rapanui Press.

This volume provides a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the period of occupation of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) by the British company Williamson & Balfour (1903- 1953): the Easter Island Exploitation Company. Drawing on archaeology, anthropology and history, the articles in this book focus on the various transformations that this cattle industry caused to the island and its inhabitants, and discuss the different economic, spatial, architectural and political implications of this process. The volume also emphasises the capacity that the Rapanui people had, at that time, to preserve some essential aspects of their Polynesian culture in a historical context of intensive (and brutal) colonialism driven both by the Company and the Chilean State.

The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology
of the Contemporary World.

Paul Graves-Brown, Rodney Harrison & Angela Piccini (eds) 2013 The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Contemporary World. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

This Handbook, containing 49 newly authored chapters and three photo essays, is the first comprehensive survey of the newly emerging focus on the archaeology of the present and recent past. In addition to detailed archaeological case studies, it includes essays by scholars working on the relationships of different disciplines to the archaeology of the contemporary world, including anthropology, psychology, philosophy, historical geography, science and technology studies, communications and media, ethnoarchaeology, forensic archaeology, sociology, film, performance, and contemporary art. This volume seeks to explore the boundaries of an emerging sub-discipline, to develop a tool-kit of concepts and methods which are applicable to this new field, and to suggest important future trajectories for research. It makes a significant intervention by drawing together scholars working on a broad range of themes, approaches, methods, and case studies from diverse contexts in different parts of the world, which have not previously been considered collectively.

Pottery in
Archaeology (2nd Edition).

Clive Orton & Michael Hughes 2013 Pottery in Archaeology (2nd Edition). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

This revised edition provides an up-to-date account of the many different kinds of information that can be obtained through the archaeological study of pottery. It describes the scientific and quantitative techniques that are now available to the archaeologist, and assesses their value for answering a range of archaeological questions. It provides a manual for the basic handling and archiving of excavated pottery so that it can be used as a basis for further studies. The whole is set in the historical context of the ways in which archaeologists have sought to gain evidence from pottery and continue to do so. There are case studies of several approaches and techniques, backed up by an extensive bibliography.

Writing
as Material Practice: Substance, surface and
medium.

Kathryn E Piquette & Ruth D Whitehouse 2013 Writing as Material Practice: Substance, surface and medium. Ubiquity Press.

Writing as Material Practice grapples with the issue of writing as a form of material culture in its ancient and more recent manifestations, and in the contexts of production and consumption. Fifteen case studies explore the artefactual nature of writing - the ways in which materials, techniques, colour, scale, orientation and visibility inform the creation of inscribed objects, spaces and landscapes, as well as structure subsequent engagement, perception and meaning making. Covering a temporal span of some 5000 years, from c.3200 BCE to the present day, and ranging in spatial context from the Americas to the Near East, the chapters in this volume bring a variety of perspectives which contribute to both specific and broader questions of writing materialities. Authors also aim to place past graphical systems in their social contexts so they can be understood in relation to the people who created and attributed meaning to writing and associated symbolic modes through a diverse array of individual and wider social practices. The book is published open access, with free electronic formats available at http://dx.doi. org/10.5334/bai.

“The
Archaeology of Legal Culture. World Archaeology
45.5.

Andrew Reynolds & Kevin P. Smith (eds) 2013 The Archaeology of Legal Culture. World Archaeology 45.5. Abingdon: Routledge.

This collection of nine papers considers the contribution of material evidence to the study of legal culture in all of its guises. The papers range geographically from the UK to Australia and cover topics which include judicial execution, the mafia, the regulation of commodities and the landscape archaeology of law and order. New perspectives and insights are offered on a field which has been generally neglected by archaeologists.

Tooth Development in Human
Evolution and Bioarchaeology.

Simon Hillson 2014 Tooth Development in Human Evolution and Bioarchaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Human children grow at a uniquely slow pace by comparison with other mammals. When and where did this schedule evolve? Have technological advances, farming and cities had any effect upon it? Addressing these and other key questions in palaeoanthropology and bioarchaeology, Simon Hillson examines the unique role of teeth in preserving detailed microscopic records of development throughout childhood and into adulthood. The text critically reviews theory, assumptions, methods and literature, providing the dental histology background to anthropological studies of both growth rate and growth disruption. Chapters also examine existing studies of growth rate in the context of human evolution and primate development more generally, together with implications for life history. The final chapters consider how defects in the tooth development sequence shed light on the consequences of biological and social transitions, contributing to our understanding of the evolution of modern human development and cognition.

The Silk Roads: An ICOMOS Thematic
Study

Tim Williams 2014 The Silk Roads: An ICOMOS Thematic Study ICOMOS.

This ICOMOS thematic study analysed archaeological sites along the Silk Roads, providing a comparative analysis to assist states parties in the serial transnational World Heritage nominations of the Silk Roads. The study explored the distribution and distinctiveness of sites, manifestations of the shifting systems of power and patronage that prevailed over time along the Silk Roads, in relation to the organisation and protection of trade routes. The study developed a strategy of using ‘corridors’ to map sites and routes, using this to form the basis for considering the Silk Roads as a collection of World Heritage properties, linked by a concept, instead of one single World Heritage serial property.

Anthropology, Collecting and Colonial Governmentalities.

Tony Bennett, Ben Dibley & Rodney Harrison (eds) 2014 Anthropology, Collecting and Colonial Governmentalities. Special guest edited volume of History and Anthropology, Volume 25, Issue 2.

This special issue contributes to an emerging literature on the materialities of colonial government by considering the changing relations between practices of data collecting, styles of anthropological knowing and modes of governing which target the conduct of colonial and metropolitan populations. Drawing on comparative studies from Australia; the Australian administered territory of Papua; France; French Indo- China; New Zealand; North America and the UK; the papers consider the implications of different forms of knowledge associated with practices of collecting—anthropology, archaeology, folklore studies, demography—in apparatuses of rule in various late nineteenth and early twentieth-century contexts.

Alien Cities:
Consumption and the origins of urbanism in Roman
Britain.

Dominic Perring & Martin Pitts 2014 Alien Cities: Consumption and the origins of urbanism in Roman Britain. SpoilHeap monograph 7. Dorchester: Spoil- Heap Publications.

This volume examines the economic and social impact of early Roman towns on the landscape of south-east Britain. Utilising the unusually rich database generated by rescue excavations in the region dominated by Colchester and London, it asks how the creation of these cities affected rural landscapes and communities in the first 200 years of Roman administration and control. Whilst past studies have cast the south-east as a ‘Romanised’ heartland, the authors contend that the major cities of Roman Britain stood apart as alien places of government and culture, where the exercise of imperial power made exaggerated call on available resources.