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The Archaeology of Meaningful Places

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Copyright: 2009
Trim: 7 x 10
Pages: 232 pp.
Illustrations: 61 figures, 7 tables


The Archaeology of Meaningful Places

Edited by Brenda J. Bowser and María Nieves Zedeño

Foundations of Archaeological Inquiry

James M. Skibo, series editor

Anthropology and Archaeology

In the broadest sense this book is concerned with describing and explaining how particular places contain the key elements necessary for understanding the social worlds constructed, maintained, and modified by those who once inhabited them. This is achieved through the investigation of biographical, topographic, geopolitical, ideological, cosmological, and mnemonic facets of place, beginning with processes of place making and continuing with the development of networks among and between places and broader landscapes.

Diverse spatial and temporal contexts in two culture areas—Mesoamerica and the Greater Southwest—serve as backdrops for nine chapters in which fourteen contributors show how place is an ideal starting point to begin unraveling the human past. Several authors further address the enduring significance of places of the past for contemporary peoples. Among the many strengths of this volume is the careful way in which powerful concepts, diverse lines of thought, and empirical models are integrated to reveal the multiple facets of meaningful places, and to illustrate ways in which places may be approached archaeologically, theoretically, and culturally. Ultimately, the book’s contributors champion the notion that place is a valid and useful analytical unit for describing, reconstructing, interpreting, and explaining the form, structure, and temporality of the meanings humans ascribe to their environment.

Brenda J. Bowser is assistant professor of anthropology at California State University, Fullerton. She is co-editor of Cultural Transmission and Material Culture: Breaking Down Boundaries and Drink, Society, and Power in the Andes.

María Nieves Zedeño is associate research anthropologist at the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology and associate professor of anthropology at the University of Arizona. She is the author of Sourcing Prehistoric Ceramics at Chodistaas Pueblo, Arizona: The Circulation of People and Pots in the Grasshopper Region.


Wendy Ashmore, University of California, Riverside; T. J. Ferguson, Anthropological Research LLC and University of Arizona; Christopher P. Garraty, Arizona State University; Michael P. Heilen, Statistical Research Inc., Tucson; Julia A. Hendon, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg; Arthur A. Joyce, University of Colorado, Boulder; Rosemary A. Joyce, University of California, Berkeley; Leigh J. Kuwanwisiwma, Hopi Cultural Preservation Office; Stephen H. Lekson, University of Colorado, Boulder; Jeanne Lopiparo, Rhodes College, Memphis; Michael A. Ohnersorgen, University of Missouri, St. Louis; J. Jefferson Reid, University of Arizona; John R. Welch, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia; Stephanie M. Whittlesey, SWCA Environmental Consultants, Flagstaff

Table of Contents:

List of Illustrations

1. The Archaeology of Meaningful Places - María Nieves Zedeño and Brenda J. Bowser
2. Biographies of Place at Quiriguá, Guatemala - Wendy Ashmore
3. The Main Plaza of Monte Albán: A Life History of Place - Arthur A. Joyce
4. Being in Place: Intersections of Identity and Experience on the Honduran Landscape - Rosemary A. Joyce, Julia A. Hendon, and Jeanne Lopiparo
5. Mountains, Mounds, and Meaning: Metaphor in the Hohokam Cultural Landscape - Stephanie M. Whittlesey
6. Hopitutskwa and Ang Kuktota: The Role of Archaeological Sites in Defining Hopi Cultural Landscapes - Leigh J. Kuwanwisiwma and T. J. Ferguson
7. Negotiating the Imperial Landscape: The Geopolitics of Aztec Control in the Outer Provinces of the Empire - Christopher P. Garraty and Michael A. Ohnersorgen
8. A Landscape of Gambles and Guts: Commodification of Land on the Arizona Frontier - Michael P. Heilen and J. Jefferson Reid
9. Reconstructing an Ndee Sense of Place - John R. Welch
10. Lost Cities, Prairie Castles - Stephen H. Lekson

References Cited

Praise and Reviews:

"The Archaeology of Meaningful Places is informative, thought provoking, and inspiring, a combination that is much too rare in archaeological writing. The authors challenged me to broaden my perspectives and to reconsider what I thought I already knew.”
—Kurt F. Anschuetz, Rio Grande Foundation, Albuquerque, New Mexico

"Features ten informed and informative articles. A seminal contribution to the growing field of scientific literature."
The Midwest Book Review

"Each contribution offers its own take on place and meaning."
New Mexico Historical Review

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