In its original edition, Bruce Trigger's book was the first ever to examine the history of archaeological thought from medieval times to the present in world-wide perspective. Now, in this new edition, he both updates the original work and introduces new archaeological perspectives and concerns. At once stimulating and even-handed, it places the development of archaeological thought and theory throughout within a broad social and intellectual framework. The successive but interacting trends apparent in archaeological thought are defined and the author seeks to determine the extent to which these trends were a reflection of the personal and collective interests of archaeologists as these relate - in the West at least - to the fluctuating fortunes of the middle classes. While subjective influences have been powerful, Professor Trigger argues that the gradual accumulation of archaeological data has exercised a growing constraint on interpretation. In turn, this has increased the objectivity of archaeological research and enhanced its value for understanding the entire span of human history and the human condition in general.
Bruce G. Trigger is James McGill Professor in the Department of Anthropology at McGill University. He received his PhD from Yale University and has carried out archaeological research in Egypt and the Sudan. His interests include the comparative study of early civilizations, the history of archaeology, and archaeological and anthropological theory. He has received various scholarly awards, including the prestigious Prix Leon Gerin from the Quebec government, for his sustained contributions to the social sciences. He is an honorary fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and an honorary member of the Prehistoric Society (UK). His numerous books include the first edition of A History of Archaeological Thought (Cambridge 1989), The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas, Volume 1 (Cambridge 1996), co-edited with Wilcomb E. Washburn, and Understanding Early Civilizations (Cambridge 2003).
Preface to the second edition; 1. Studying the history of archaeology; 2. Classical and other text-based archaeologies; 3. Antiquarianism without texts; 4. The beginnings of prehistoric archaeology; 5. Evolutionary archaeology; 6. Culture-historical archaeology; 7. Early functional-processual archaeology; 8. Processualism and postprocessualism; 9. Pragmatic synthesis; 10. The relevance of archaeology; Bibliographical essay.