Since its publication in 1996, The Oxford Companion to Archaeology has firmly established itself as the standard reference work in the field of archaeology, selling nearly 15,000 copies to date and remaining a favorite among students, scholars, and anyone interested in archaeology. In 700 entries, the second edition provides thorough coverage to historical archaeology, the development of archaeology as a field of study, and the ways the discipline works to explain the past. In addition to these theoretical entries, other entries describe the major excavations, discoveries, and innovations, from the discovery of the cave paintings at Lascaux to the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphics and the use of luminescence dating. Much has changed in the field since 1996. Recent developments in methods and analytical techniques (e.g., laser-based mapping and survey systems, new applications of the scanning electron microscope) have revolutionized the ways excavations are performed. Cultural tourism, cultural resource management, heritage, and conservation have been redefined as areas within archaeology, and have had new emphasis given them by scholars and administrators.
Major new sites have expanded our understanding of prehistory and human developments through time. The second edition explores each of these advances in the field, adding approximately 200 entries and exanding the total work to three volumes. Neil Asher Silberman, a renowned practicing archaeologist, author, and scholar, and a board member for the first edition, is the editor in chief. In addition to significant expansion, first-edition entries have been thoroughly revised and updated to reflect the progress that has been made in the last decade and a half.