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It's About Time
A History of Archaeological Dating in North America
Edited by Stephen E. Nash
Anthropology / Archaeology
Archaeologists working at the turn of the millennium have any number of techniques at their disposal to elucidate temporal relationships and "date" events of archaeological significance. These range from simple visual examination of object placement within a stratigraphic cross-section to highly technical analyses of material, chemical, and physical properties of artifacts, features, or the sediments in which they are found.
Yet despite the key role of chronology within archaeology, the history of archaeological dating and its effect on the interpretation of prehistory has never been actively considered. In this book, archaeologists with expertise in stratigraphy, ceramic dating, obsidian hydration, and luminescence dating present historical and nontechnical reviews of the growth, development, and application of their techniques. These reviews, as well as one by a sociologist of science, provide archaeologists who do not specialize in such methods with a better understanding of how each technique became integrated within archaeological research. Each expert then evaluates the effect of the specific dating technique and its resulting data on the interpretation of North American prehistory. The analyses, which include case studies, provide guidelines for the proper interpretation of chronologic and chronometric data.
It's About Time will be of use to professional archaeologists and yet is accessible to anyone with an interest in the history and techniques of modern archaeology.
Table of Contents:
List of Figures
List of Tables
PART I: Introduction
1. The Surprisingly Deficient History of Archaeochronology
~ Stephen E. Nash and Jeffrey S. Dean
PART II. Layers, Styles, and Rings: Early Approaches to Archaeological Dating
2. Stratigraphy and Archaeological Dating ~ Julie K. Stein
3. The Foundations, Practice, and Limitations of Ceramic Dating in the American Southwest ~ Eric Blinman
4. Seven Decades of Archaeological Tree-Ring Dating ~ Stephen E. Nash
PART III: Radiation, Magnetism, Water, and Light: Later Approaches
5. The Introduction of Radiocarbon Dating ~ R.E. Taylor
6. Thirty Years of Archaeomagnetic Dating ~ Jeffrey L. Eighmy
7. Obsidian Hydration Dating, Past and Present ~ Charlotte Beck and George T. Jones
8. Luminescence Dating and Why It Deserves Wider Application ~ James K. Feathers
PART IV: Historical Records and Narrative
9. Dendrochronology and Historical Records: Concordance and Conflict in Navajo ~ Ronald H. Towner
10. Narrating Archaeology: A Historiography and Notes Toward a Sociology of Archaeological Knowledge ~ Jennifer L. Croissant
PART V: Conclusion
11. Just a Matter of Time? North American Archaeological Dating in the Twenty-First Century ~ Stephen E. Nash
Praise and Reviews:
"A useful summary of the historical development of many of the main dating methods currently in use in North America."
"Revealing in a non-tedious way how the most commonly used dating techniques in North American archaeology have affected the interpretations of indigenous peoples. The volume is a valuable addition to the growing number of treatises in the history of North American archaeology."
—Journal of Middle Atlantic Archaeology
"Writing for the uninitiated is not something that most of us are good at, and it is the sign of a good editor...that he or she can sand the rough spots, fill in the low spots, and produce a readable, and enjoyable, edited book. I recommend it as a text at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, especially in classes that focus on archaeological method, and as a book that should be rad from time to time by all archaeologists."