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Mark p, Leone University a t M aryland


College Park


ral, and Critical Archaeology

s~':' Iic, Structu bo



chaeology) ymboli C' ar ch neology, slrucrural archaeology, and critical arWhat i o they h) I ,lVen [hat [heyare d'ff erenr approaches 10 archaeology what umform given th at rhese rwo approaches do not compose a d . are. And' ' [hem and movement ' w h at are we currents and cross-currents between ' .L rnarn (ream ar haeology' ology ymbolic arch aeo Iogy, uucrural archaeology, and critical archaea th ' of the' uire I eren! approaches to archaeological data, None re ree qui d'ff Iradl'll,m 151 completely defined as yet, None groWS directly out of either all thre h ea 197) or the new archaeology (Clarke 1973) and yet ona (L ch (hem e ave drawn ignificant artention, The archaeologists involved in assu appear to be involved in rhe same issues and operate bwith the same 8 Ke mpnon (Hodder 1981a, Spriggs 1984; Miller 19 :z. ; Moore and 8 thaI h 3, these approaches are being defined it is becoming dear . ene 198 ) A Pa I ey are not necessarily headed for similar analyses (Bender 19 5, ' 19 4, t IS, however clear ro anyone who reads the arc aeonerson 8) I . h me . I" 84 ' 10~QI iterature roday, rhat many archaeologistS are concerned with en 19;mn (Hodder 19 :z.a, 1983), ideology (Kristains 19 ; Paynter 8 g r ,; Handsrnan "'" ,,'" ,,',), ,o"cr." (hl,dm" and R",","" 6 _~7, Glassie 197" Freidel 1981) and CogmtlOn (Deetz 19 7) In ica past h eues, Ln order ,,' approach such areas wroug the archaeolog I to soo' c gnirive anthropology, symbolic analysis, and ~'~"m (B" udri "'" ,,", G,,,,hIII ,,'" God,lIa ,,", ,,,,, M,d assoux r97~; Wallerstein 1976), ' ' Symbolic, structural, and crirical archaeology are chosen 10 thIS es-

," rd, id as, models and """I.
rom ,Strll 1'lIr.lism,



b"ro~d ,,' .,''''


American Archaeology Past and Future

Leone I Symbolic, Structural, and Critical Archaeology 417

say because their spokespersons are increasingly vocal and widely read, and because their differences are not as clear within the field as they should be. The point of this essay is not to address the origins of these approaches, whether they are mainly American or British, nor to identify schools of thought associated with universities or with particular scholars. The point is to identify the basic assumptions and to see how they are expressed in the five illustrations discussed and quoted below.

Four Issues These three initiatives in archaeology can be understood by reference to four issues. The first one is the interactive or recursive quality of culture. Rather than supposing that culture, including the rules, behavior, and things produced, is borne by people in a fairly passive and unaware fashion, the assumption is that people create, use, modify, and manipulate their symbolic capabilities, making and remaking the world they live in. This does not necessarily mean the capacity to dominate, control, or even to change culture in directive or politically forceful ways. It is, however, an effon to see that, like language, its use shapes our lives, and our lives would be shapeless without it. The major impact in archaeology of this viewpoint comes in regarding material culture as an instrument in creating meaning and order in the world (Conkey 1982; Donley 1982; Kus 1982; Moore 1982; Parker Pearson 1982), and not solely as the reflection of economics, social organization, or ideology. The importance of this point is well developed by John Barren wbo attempts to adapt Giddens (1979, 1981, r982a, 1982b) to archaeology. One attempt to break with functionalism involves shifting the focus of analysis from the consequences of human action to the intentions and motivations of that action .... In the theory of structuratlOn, Giddens employs an analytical frame of the "time-space continuum" within which the actions of knowledgeable human subjects reproduce the institutional conditions of their own existence. Giddens means ... discursive knowledge (which) encompass[es] the practical knowledge of "how to go on" ... , it is knowledge whICh IS drawn upon for, and reproduced in, human action. Here the subJects draw upon their reflexive experience of an objective world, whICh appears constituted as a meaningful cultural resource, and act upon those same external conditions to reproduce and t!ansform them, bequeathIng the results of that action as the condItIons for future action [Barrett n.d.: 5- 9 J.

, This is the recursive qua Irty af cu Iture, w hich sees people , as actors, , symbols as central to human existence, an d rnateri al culture In context en . ,. Its capacity to order human life, d " I . as analogous to language In cnnca The second crucial issue be hiInd sym b a liIC, struetura] 'h an ki d f ' All ap proaches deny ithe hIn 0 t archaeology is an emphasis on mearung. . t be assocIated Wit I e new materialism which has over the years come a I' Wh' Julian . b ' d from Les re rte, archaeology. As materialism was In enre Vavd d a ' H . and A P vay a, an Steward, reinterpreted through Marvin ,arns f" f determin, h I It became a arm a host of other, largely Amencan, sc oars, , th I' ts and all B ' . h cial an ropo ogis ism that has been avoided by most pns so .' hi h has been re' Th e m atenaltsm w IC that which American symbolic anthropo Iogists. h II's . . ) d .tical arc aeo ogy iected by symbohc (Hodder 1985 an cn I' I t hnologl'cal and . . ff 'from eCOogtcar, ec , IS seen as a hierarchy a actors going .' d to a vaguely de' considerations to SOCIa orgamzatlon, an .' . I d emographlc fined ideological or religious organization. I h last twenty years' , 'I . archaeo ogy, t e h In a concrete historica sense In d rive studies of t e rkably pro uc progress has revolved aroun d th e rema d' I foods and the , d lant an aruma , d natural environment, domesticate P I ort reproduce, an , d to supp y, supp , k tools, shelters, and techniques use I While sometimes ta . d whole cu ture. h control a population, socrety, an a li haeology rejectSt e rnaing potshots at these achievements, symbo ICarfc ily life, deliberate at, . . . he context 0 dal f th hr tenaltsm that Ignores meamng, r nd the whole world a ,oug ~ tempts to manipulate social relanons, a r981) of ermcal ar On the other hand, the sources (Habermahs r~~:;s do not renounce a te from teO, . where chaeology which are here separa that in any SOCiety , h logy argues rh funcmaterialist tradition. Such arc aeo 1 'tatl'on to expeer smoO I . . fl' t or exp OJ , 'maJor par there are contrad,cnons, con IC, I did is to mISS a archaeo ogy, hural sysrem tioning or adaptation as th e new h' rhe parr of a cu. fljer ffi, ' h mee anJS ,tlve con of the culture. Ideology IS t e , . ns and thus prevents a Ideology that hides or masks the contradlCBrlO 'rt and Silverman 1979)'h rent or r' arne . any co e from occurring (Althusser r9 7 ' d' archaeology 10 b n define In has, until recently, never ee h oJogy? Is it . I , ac ~w~ae here is cause, opera nona way. , d b these appro d How is culture conceive y, What inreracts an w 8..a' Tilley 'k language. . (MIller r9' f levels, a system, or II e b I' archaeologistS f r a pictUre a m a IC f rence 0 , Y Barrett (n.d.) an d t h e s, f levels in pre e b moment baSIS. 'd h notion 0 oment y . d 'Jy r982, 1984) avOl t e 'terealityonam. 'ons) sbapmg al otla people using symbols ro neg f symbolS (OppOSltl Scbele (in press) d berent set 0 F eldel an Structuralists see a co d beloW from r life, but in the examples use


American Archaeology

Past and Future

Leone I Symbolic.


and Critical Archaeology


and Deetz (1977; 1983) we can see they are not so concerned with how the oppositions are affected by use. For their part, critical archaeologists do conceive of levels in the Marxist in maintaining reproduces chaeology society, its coherence, society intact. symbolic and critical aris a critique of the function (Shanks of the past and scientific and Tilley in press) knowlsense, but see ideology and its continuity: as powerful is what ideology

grant a culture-free


to the self-proclaimed

self-watching abilities

The third issue that helps to define both edge of it in society. Symbolic

of Western scientific logic. There are two points: an unaware science IS , , th Ignorant of Its own ell1ture. F urtherv si er, since me 0d I'S itself of cultural . origin, it may ultimately not be possible to create or depend on a SCience f ate h past to produce any more t han a strong me, rpretatlon. ThIS does an a srronz i t . I b ut It d oes Imp I that any SCiencethat it ' not Imply that all pasts are equa, y , b e I', ieves

, in th itself to be active I". t e cross-cu Itura I traditions or,,' rn the law-

and critical

archaeology (Gero et al. 1983; Leone 198ra, 198Ib; Meltzer 1981) assert the active role of the past in the society that is interested in it. Both approaches assert that the past, whether media, to assert it be known myth, through meanings. neutrality, about the sciis Neither or its role archaeolit ences of the past, the vernacular an active vehicle for communicating position will allow archaeology producer or even as a socially in endless as the objective 1981,1985), of accurate or through museums,

and composing scientific knowledge

the past (Wylie

irrelevant variations,

pursuit, Symbolic
and further, the priviliged Where

ogy asserts that since the past is a social creation, exists in most societies archaeology chaelogy produces one of these variations, for its own good.

and that because

that because status of arconsid-

must be examined

does its right to

di h ds an examlOatlOn of ItS searching tradition, or in the tra inon t at regar , bii di , '1 p hilosophy IS in, 109 connection with modern society as mere socia ' , ,' f h I y' we and our insnItself to the fundamental proposincn 0 ant ropo og " 1 ' t outside of cu rure. tutions are cultural creations, and we d 0 not exrs I I f m the i Critical archaeology has not dirvorced itseIf so cornp ere y ro , d the last twenty years m emphasis on scientific method develope over s that the , I»' h larly context mean archaeology. The word "critica In any sc a , f h discipline and . ' d d'scovenes 0 t e relations between the assumptIons an I d b,'ect to examihei , . I cern an are su t err ties to modern life are a centra con , lly sub)'ects the , h . tion automatIca nanon (Habermas 1971). Sue examma, di line to questions di . f science or iSCIP questions, methods, and Iscovenes a a di the questions, influwhich ask how the scientist's surroundl".gs hlctate It or more usually, . ith r t e resu S , ence the method, and predetermme ei e I irical studies do not

dominate come from? Why is the archaeological ered the only correct one? Critical archaeology forcefully asserts ways produced in the service of class interests discussion





and InterpretatIon,

with Marx

that history

(Bloch 1977; to scientific

is alGero 1983; objectivity Thus, both

hope for or cause , POint is to produce

t-nce or disclphne. The of a serene the Impovens men k ictsrn nor a pointless rela'd neither a e b'l',tatlng s eptlCIS i



N nethe ess, en




' h


Wobst 1983). Furthermore, are likely to obfuscate an exploration a consciousness questions of the political

it asserts that appeals of the assumption function

of objectivity. may produce

of archaeology of archaeology

of the social function to address archaeology

as well as a set of social beneas lan-

for archaeology

that may be of greater

fit. Thus, while symbolic past is a social construct guage, critical archaeology, and likely to be pernicious gy's ideological able questions.

on the one hand is aware that the a part of culture sees history attention archaeologically hand, as ideology, to archaeoloanswer-

and is just as dynamic on the other if ignored. Therefore, important, archaeology critical Symbolic

status may produce

Fourth, from within symbolic of the place of positivism MIller and Tilley 1984). severe in its implications Within

has come a serious denial science (Hodder the critique 1982a; is less of to

in archaeological

archaeology archaeology

and more hopeful

of sustaining

the tradition is not willing

the later sixties and seventies.

tivism. , ' h symbolic archaeologists , k d by Bntls H dd The most prominent war one f Northwest Europe. 0 er is with different aspects of the BronzeAge 0 8 ) Shennan (1982), Kns(I982b), Shanks and Tilley (1982) Till;y (~~v: t~ken a stratified sOCIery tiansen (1984), and Parker Pearson (19 4) ccess to wealth, and asked " k d differences m a 'I es of the I". whIch there were mar e t d The" ana ys , 'd d and perpetua e . 'I soeiated how was power JustIfie , use , t that the r"ua s as Age sugges f I to constandard remains of the Bronze, sed by the power u, h' d t nstls were u h lations Ip with burials, barrows, an u e, f equality when t at re I e h na yses ar I 0f t h e eXistence 0 vince the less powerfu b ' ssumptions in t ese a d but , ' 'h' The asIC a or gOO s, was actually dlmllllS mg, al access to power" ' i'Sa b d on unequ d S atlficalion that stratification was ase b ' tified or maske. tr , h I some , 'd must e JUs tIOn IS I • Is always tentative an , h' The second assump d obably 'I , d'ynamoc, not a sta bl e, relatIOns , Ip. with buna , ca,n be usehe pr ted f situation 'k h se assOCia h ' lice 0 t material items, Ilet 0, II involved of t e JUS , society in. . nVloce a d continue I". mu al contextS, to co , 1 conflict, an SO to , potentia and thus to neutra IIze


American Archaeology

Past and Future

Leone I Symbolic, Structural, and Critical Archaeology


tact. This precis of the argument distills too much, however, to see the difference between a symbolic and a critical interpretation. Hodder's (I982b) argument shows cogently what he is after. In the Dutch Neolithic there are a series of well-known phases marked by different settlement, subsistence, and ceramic patterns. Early on, settlements were nucleated, agriculture was intensive, and pottery was decorated in clearly bounded areas. Later, pottery decorations ale related to each other (Hodder 1982b:I6S). The pottery designs of [phases] A to E has been described as incorporating increasing numbers of contrasts and oppositions. Complex communal burial and associated ritual are known throughout the early ... phases. But in phases F and G ... megaliths cease to be constructed. , .. The construction of tombs in the early [phases] argues for the presence of corporate groups and ... the use of communal burial mounds and monuments ... symbolize local competing groups and lineages in north and west Europe .... The tombs, and an ideology related to ancestors, may have functioned not only to legitimate dominant groups, but also to legitimate their traditional rights tied to one place [Hodder 1982b:IJO], [Given change to dispersed settlement, contradictions emerge between] dominant and subordinate groups to emphasize traditional, stable ties to ancestors, in the context of shorter term, expanding settlement .... [Consequently] the decrease in identifiable contrasts and categorical oppositions in the pottery forms and decoration of the late [phases] could have acted to deny the earlier social distincnons, and to emphasize connections and interrelationships. By expressing a decreased concern with categorization and by drawing less attention to the boundaries between these categories, a new pattern of social and economic relationships could be set up [Hodder

, stable widely scattered, also hierarc hi I groups. The groups changed ica h d b ' did people's places In and among th em. Thus there d a hi to e in an and so . h 'changed an t ISwas negotiation over place, which means t at meamng , This par' f matenal culture. ISpar facilitated through the use a f many items a f it mphasis , ki tant because 0 I Se ticular illustration of Hodder s war ISimpor , I'ty of mate, hasi the recursive qua I On meaning and context, ltS emp asis, on I' dividuals not that peop e as In , rial culture, which in turn al Iows us to see " als which are , buri d take part 10 ntu as population aggregates, die, are unec, d I pottery vessels , " in th elf I' ' ives, m ake , use an hre y on d furthermore, genuinely significant III t ,', fli wlthm t em, an to help define their lives, reso Ive can rcts h haeological record. hat this is an mterpretanon a eIe, rhi , ion of ments of t e arc part of Europe IS , t at II , rside of a sma The validity of this interpretation au k mally separated as, , " bTt to ta e nor Irrelevant; its strength hes 10 ItS a I I Y h lationships that pro, d ticulate t e re d peers of archaeological data, an to ar, itual settlement, an , ' f b 'I bSlStence,nruai, di duced them. Consideration 0 una, su fli cts and contra !C. f h stresses, con 1 , . their changes over time in terms ate nonal archaeologIsts, havi mong conven , tions is not at all normal be avior a ind h article. Hodder ISoph'behmte h ds the fabric of the past for Also, there is obviously a hypot esis posed to variable testing of the kind that s re nt Hodder's piece does , ired I e in the prese, If ending an accuracy that has Imute va u f racity; it ers an , not offer a conclusion wit h a sta t ed degreed ve d changed by orher archae, b expan e or , .. t proc<which is plausible, which can e b ing strict poSltlVlS ld be done y USI ologists just as easily as cou dures,




The material culture [burial, pots, axes] is organized into a complex senes of categories and oppositions so that the associated activitieS c~n playa part in drawing attention to and legitimating individ~al nghts In a context in which there is increasing potential for the diSruptIOn of those rights" ... , On the North European plain .. , groups mamp~lated burial, pottery and the symbols ... in order to maintain, traditional rights .... The new process of legitimization Iesolved the earlIer contradictions ... [as did the] symbolic distInCtIOns In pottery and .. , the daily activities associated with .. , ItS use" [Hodder 1982b:IJS, 176]. , Material culture was used by people in institutional settings to negotIate the change from stable, closely settled hierarchical groups to un-

fi f dis, e have the bene t 0 , 10 y as a topiC, w d continually. Irs In isolating symbohc archaeo gh ' being elaborate, d a on dIe I gy t at IS Slve ar h aeo a Cussing a form of arc 'tegration of the mas I 1982' Kus , ,,' lve an 10 I (Don ey , major contributions lOVO 'I thnoarchaeo ogy " of dIe new lithiC tS ed' cnnque Northwest European N eO ' n 1982) an ItS , 'n it is clear P k r Pearso mmano , 1982; Moore 1982; ar e I 'mportant, Upon eXa , Jared from dIe archaeology are also, obvJOuSy'hlevements cannot be ISO I y'saci Igy that symbolic archaeo og ctural archaeo o· t conrempora. ive or steu overnen.. l~ mt progress made by cog I gy exists as a m k what 's Its re a Since symbolic archaeo 0 't is reasonable t~ ~ t (Deetz 1977), e neously with structural analYfsetsh'el England mm sg 7S) almec cosNew ' ' ' tionship to reconstrUCt'ons a 'in I VirgHUa(Glassle I f folk housIng the cognitive rules a A Case of Structural Archaeology


American Archaeology

Past and Future

Leone I Symbolic, Structural, and CriticalArchaeology 423

mology (Furst 1968), or Maya cosmology (Freidel 1981)? A number of American archaeologists have been concerned with symbolic, or in a Parsonian framework, cultural issues for some time. For many, indeed most, culture is a level of meaning or thought that includes values, cosmology, patterns held unawares, or structures composed of oppositions. Such a reality exists alongside and is independent of social organization. Culture facilitates social reality. Further, these archaeologists do not find cause for change or stability in anyone level of reality, but rather reinforcement hetween them. Most would agree with the recursive quality of material culture, but as an afterthought not as a basic operation to start with. For these archaeologists, it is culture or symbols that are recursive with changes in politics, settlement expansion, dynastic or governmental shift, or subsistence. Structural and cognitive scholars also would find a recursive relationship between archaeological constructions and the society of the archaeologists inevitable. Except for Kehoe (1984a, 1984b) none seems to have pursued it yet as a research strategy. All these archaeologists favor interpretation over the testing of precisely arranged variables, hypothesis fashion, as suggested by an approach from positivism. When one reads Deetz, Glassie, Freidel, Furst, Hall, or some of the others, there is a horde of data, and tremendous emphasis on an idea of complex dimensions to fit all the archaeological pieces together. Such authors attempt to produce a whole that either corrects a previous error of archaeological fragmentation or because it replaces overly simple explanations of social change. David Freidel's work on Maya cosmology is a useful example. He has been working for years on Maya iconographic images and, along with Linda Schele (Freidel and Schele in press), has tried to understand their meaning and textual place in terms of the changes in Maya society from the Preclassic to Classic to Posrclassic, or for about a thousand years (roughly 1.00 B.C.-A.D. 800). Freidel and Schele begin by using changes in iconography to trace changes in the meaning of the symbols that are associated with political power. The Late Pre-classic symbolic model was based on the passage of Venus as Morning and Evening Star with the rising and setting of the sun, . , . They developed an amazingly effective cosmogram .. , which the commulllty could verify by simply observing the sky. As the model was expa~ded and adapted .. , two processes of change stand out, The hlstoncal identities of Late Pre-classic rulers have not been found rec,orded in public space, suggesting that personal and hlstoncalldenmy of rulers did not require permanent verification JO

the form of public monuments, Exactly the opposite is true ~~:~~ Classic penod. The legitimation of individual rulers through g , ogy and supernatural charter and in public space Withpublic partJcf ' , tpatton seems to have b een t he ori e pnme rna tiIV ation for the erecnon 0 " ' db' public art in the Classic period. Those [later] rulers legltlmlzfF t;lf positions by claiming identity as the gods of the cosmogram rei e and Schele in press: 1.7-1.9], " s in the conThis innovation in the Late Pre-claSSIC period occur , ' " d reorgamzallo,n of Maya society m text of a rapid and profoun d table , b legitimate an accep which a heretofore de facto eIire ecomes I anded access to to the general populace. The result is a great y ef~assive centers labor and goods celebrated in the construcncn 0 [Freidel and Schele in press: 3I J. . osition ... to reverse str~te, . , the Lowland Maya were not map owth and other indigegies of production and trade, populatlOd' grcreasedsocial complexnous factors reinforcing the trend toW s in ic social conditions, an ity and inequality. In the face of these ynam untenable and finally l ' b e mcreasmg Y I' ' ideal of social equa Iity ecam del of reality which made e insm underwent transformation to a rna 'I It was the explOSive re, The sOCIaresu d both rational and necessary, I laces celebrating the new or er lease of energy invested m centra p [Freidel and Schele in press:36]. ith t blishing the power of the [Freidel and Schele finish off Wit es a ffectivelydescribed,]As symbols whose political use they h:::J t7e:us] provide a potent '~d metaphor the twin ancestors [Sun I' ages communities, a , d' between me, f h same age for lateral bloo lies h cycle, As twins are a ~l d peoples adhering to the same myr f the same ancestrY, n. 00: a womb and blood, so all Maya are a lues and their kinship ,sanc



Brotherhood lends itself tode~:~ll~~~~;: ranked, and]~:r~~~t~:d tions. [In the ClaSSICpeno Ytcosmic model, with rring that , id I (ally corree By asse I mg proVI es a ce es I .' d setting sun, . ". 'the hier, b the nsmg an 'gIVen m Evening Star a ave th birth of the rwins, as , ioleof ranktime had passed between he Maya displayed thet"-dClPandSchele oglyphic texts at Palenque" t nd concept. , , . [ rei e ' 'theIr Icon a ing, of inequa IIty, m in press: 37], , raphy is not showing the Iconog crurThe mass of data on the e~:e;~:sented, the clear used ;:;poses included in the excerpts, Were Id be unmistakable. Fred'Me a'rhese . '(ons wou L Ian aya; alism to highlight OpPOSII 1 rion among the ow, 'th neither !tural revo u mng WI a social as well as a cu s mutually suppa 'd n invasion 'multaneou , d depen 0 are independent b ut Sl, h t there is nO nee to Thus along ' t , H e III SIStS a which to base the changes, order into causing the other. h' k'ng ' bance on Ie [ JO I or environmenta I d Istur , Freidel seespeop , haeologrstS, with the symbo IICarc



American Archaeology Past and Future

Leone / Symbolic. Structural. and Critical Archaeology


their world through the use of central, powerful, and pliahle These symhols initiate behavior and rationalize it as well.


In Freidel and Schele's treatment of material culture is the understanding that material objects are recursive or forming. Friedel can be and is more clear than Hodder, Shanks, Tilley or Sheenan about how ritual life and shrines and temple structures shaped people's lives. He can be, since ethnohistoric texts exist to give a good idea of what Mayan cosmology evidence was and what its manifestations of Northwest semiotics, from linguistics, were. No such help is availWe have long had the structural and symbolic able from the Neolithic Europe. and from

, h mbolic archaeologists. Deetz is of the two points they share With t e sy, ) that finds expres" ' f thought (ItS power occupied with the consistency 0 , itted t huilding a case , I' He IS commnte 0 sion in a vast array of matena Items. f f ctionally unrelated , kid d erse ranges a un strong enough to lin arge an IV h' logic that takes a , " , his approac , uSing Items. He IS willing to attempt t I'" other cultural do, , d fi ds rep icanon In culturally specific opposition an n, I ientific than Hodder, mains as evidence of accuracy. ee z d wi h defining tests, but , H 'I , Freidel or Levi-Strauss. e IS ess concerne Wit h a part of science , , genera I' w hich is just as muc quite concerned With ity, , h bolic archaeologists, are and Freidel, unlike t e sym Insofar as Deetz and " f their questIOns. unconcerned with the ongins a , I e they are concerne d ,h I Amencan cu tur , Glassie are concerned Wit ear Y cerned with systemanc , d B t they are not can ,, f d in with American society to ay. u f the opposItIons oun ' s the ,locus a 'h t ey create ' examination of researc h categone, etation which , f ' f the rnterpr 'tterns the data, or the SOCial uncuon a irh hy the Amencan pa , no parncu Iar concern Wit w is or is not, t h eITproduct, ' ' Indeed there IS d , ib d or why to ay I , 0) to say they so cogently descri e cease, . GI ssie (1975:189-19 I' , ' Deetz begins hIS ana I' YSIS b Y USing'I a onomic po liri I and re 1nca , deve cpr de peop e if t they rna , gious conditions ... c ange ., thi s they did, the aru acts d " (Deerz modes of thought, and [then] the t tak place in their min s h had ra en manifested the changes t at , in the lo-Amenca I 81 19 :14). I d and throughout Ang int ar which , " ' New Eng an , 'I 'the pOI In Virginia, 10 '''individualism signa 5 This importanr late r Bth and 19th centunes'd' '[Glassie 1975:190J. , This shift I hOUSIng, mun ity res the face-to-face com d hanges in vernacu ar d' 'dualism is re'b statement IS ase d on observe c , tion to I Iy 10 Ivl one ) alorgamza tz198r:I3' from corporate commun rl'al world" (Dee f the mate , be ranfleeted in many aspects a 'ctures [appearmgkito chim, intenSIve stru for shnn ng d The shift from extenSIve to red] that accounts behind of ells a~, d dam vs. symmetrically or e roofs, and tucking nl in similar ~rc Jneys lowering ceIlIngs and New England not a f~hared seaung alt , " ppears 10 . arance 0 . persona., sheds in VirgInia a I in the dlSappe f the very 1m f am that in Anglo-America tel adapted.", tectural hchadg~te~~:I:, s;nd ,the ap~~hr~;~r:founfdlh'~~:~~~~Si~dY meals, s are 'llow deSIgn, w bs both 0 w' art of hJm private urn and WI h' heads and cheru b' ortraying a P in rhe both the earlider dda~1 ~o the communl~~pl~!e complex f'd:inanrly related the In IVI ;; b Simple forms 'cs to those pre or her as it passe y~lticolored cerami rapid change from m w h en h d as measurement. Deetz, Glassie,




no ess soen

anthropology that cultural materials thought and behavior. Nonetheless,

form; they are active ingredients in when the material record was de-

fined as reflective of all aspects of behavior, the recursive quality of culture, including material culture, tended to be ignored or considered second, when at all.

Cognitive ArchaeologV
"Ignored" whole. may be a better way to characterize handled material culture, early and central step in allowing and postulate how theory indeed, within culture the as a all

(, h SOCia, ec




new archaeology


Even so, Binford's

move of defining Freidel


culture as being shaped its components cylinders method material and Classic culture

by all levels of culture, pyramids

and thus of reflecting a cosmogram.

is an essential

to take Preclassic True, the about what

Freidel employs encodes

is structuralist

and its assumptions

may simply coincide

with the new archaeoloYet, the and strucand Glassie because the behavior

gy's. They may be independent, recursive quality tural archaeologists,

but they are not contradictory. by materialist

of the items is clearly seen by the symbolic and it is not employed


The Contrast in Freidel's position with Deetz (1977) (1975), who are quite concerned with thought, is important latter do not explore the impact of symbolically constituted

hack on the symbolic structure. Both Deetz and Glassie, one an archaeologist and the Other a folklorist, are concerned with reconstructing the rule~ or cognitive patterns behind expressions of folk material culture. TheIr method is structuralist and they take the recursive qua.lity of matenal CUlture more as a given , than as a topic for detailed description. S' mce Deetz employs England


and uses archaeological




the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries,

he is a useful illustranon


American Archaeology

Past and Future

Leone I Symbolic,


and Critical Archaeology


white and blue. In foodways, complex pottages and stews give way to discrete foodstuffs, served separate one from another. Like ceramics, gravestones, earlier made from slates, schists, and sandstones in a range of colors-blue, red, green, black and buff-also become uniformly white, carved from low grade local marbles. The disappearance of borders on louvres, doors and windows in houses is paralleled by the reduction in size and complexity of borders on gravestones, and at least a change in the average width and decorative elaboration of the marleys (edges) of plates and saucers toward less framed, more open forms. And the shift to symmetry reflected in central hall houses-tripartite and severely symmetrical-in all of the Anglo-American world is paralleled by the emergence of a symmetrical relationship between the individual and his or her material culture, utensils, foodstuffs, and burial pits [Deetz 1983:33]. To arrive at the synthesis occurred

of the profound the r Srh century employed

conceptual and that

changes peaked


in America


before Middle mortuprivate/ All

Deetz used oppositions

by Glassie

to describe foodways,

Virginia folk housing, ary remains, public, artificial/natural

and applied substance, framed/open, larger

them to ceramics, scattered/clustered, and opposition

and music. The oppositions

are intellect/emotion, nonsymmetry/symmetry. order/chaos

extensivelintenor culture!

sive, complex/simple,

these fall under Levi-Strauss'

Deetz has taken an interpretation, whicb one could call legitimately a hypothesis, and tried it on data from New England, where he showed it has a strong ability to fit wide ranges As the idea assumes generality, becomes less particularistic Context. Deetz's current rica will provide American organizational of vernacular covered archaeology done material culture. both in domains and in space, it to include local of South outside impact

but does not lose its ability the idea. Once

' own society. Just as myths Impact on our , ti n in the mical prognostlca 10 h rou gh astrono, about ancestors are verified t d ere used to i 8 I) an d in t h e ClassicthMaya ' an w Bronze Age (Thorpe 19 econstructions of , follow at our r support local power structures, It may , I d t have a social , if d h h archaeclogica a a, the past, which are ven e t roug I ' f ancient societies. , h are postu a nng or function analogous to t e ones we I d ob,'ective science. than a neutra an , d) Archaeology thus, may b e more hi' nship just mentlone ' , 1 re t e re ano How does an archaeo Iogrst exp a I' n is known either I ) 5 h an exp oraoo And what will we know as a resu t. uc" I I is depending on the ' or cnuca ana yst , f as phenomenological sel fore flecnon, firsr i that knowledge a , b hind the rst IS d assumptions used. The assumption e h ategories and metho s , another culture is always consntu t e d throug I c Thus ethnograp hiIC, h cholar's ell ture. , ._ that can never be freed from t e s 'I s contingent. ThIS pro , I k wledge ISa way or and, logically, archaeological. no, ' h 'f the distant orher cann .. 'be duces the skeptical posmon w hiic h ImplIes r at! . is always gOIng to ff rt at knoWIng ,' d does h be known independently, tee a Marxist pOSItIon an "I 'chaeoquestionable. A cnnca ana I' ysts stems from a ethnographIC or ar h , .. 1king the at er, 'I b sed and not deny the POSSibIlIty a nOW II knowledge IS c ass- a , , . ues that a Iinca lIy contIn. logical. Rather, the posmon arg 5 ience is a po . L lrure , whIC" histories are compose d for c Iss purposes.' c tal its own CU a , . ' ' h t SCIence IS par liti I and eccgem enterprise. It IS not Just t a h it is subject to po Itlca 1 rhe ' . , IS obvIOUS with ant h ropo I gy, but t at ims leads to k nowle dge 0 d a Ii ' ' of those at , nomic aims. An exammatlon 01 the quesno ns , met 0 s, . , d of the sources his argument IS political uses of SCIence, an d Stemming from t I , allow , 'pro uces. ch ologlSrs ro and results which the science b I' nd critical ar ae. 'rL which the unwillingness a f b at h sy m a Ie a degrees a f cert alUry WI " h ogy may have some
. ., to

, active

work in the historical


a place to extend

of the of an

an unreflective pOSitiVISm its methods relate the past.

Context, Deetz will, or may, face the worldwide form for everyday process. Dealing with

life that stems from England our direct

and HoIancestors

land, or from the colonial leads, naturally enough, ISsues in archaeology.

to the tie to ourselves,

which is one of rhe central

Critical Atchaeology As soon as any archaeologist the actIve quality of material assumes culture, the recursive it follows quality logically of culture and that archaeol·

(197 I) and d the work of Haber~as vere doubts I base on I' n SUCli se Critical archaeo ogy~ , bolic a£chaeo ogy [ d tanding pasts t Jam sym " h un ers f Lukacs (1971), d oes no I concern IS Wll the pasts 0 , hast rs Whar are d about understandmg t e P h' tical concerns. h Third Wor! , ItS t eore blacks t e that are more relevant to h' ory' women, , 'daISt· those who have been deme f'd ology? 'cal reading rhan 'h st a I e h rneneun 'ry workers? What [S tepa more from er Ie deep prehlSro Two initial efforts that stern made to disentangd 19 4) iIIustrare 8 ,. I' have been d Lan aU k aItd from crmcal ana ySlS d 5chrire 1977 an I b sis of our war lrom myth. They (Perper an d 'th the cultura a WI d b e co ncerne I ment can b e. why we shaul ' entang e what the results a 1 d IS





American Archaeology Past and Future

Leone / Symbolic, Structural, and CriticalArchaeology 429

These [myths] allow us to see the hunting model for what it is: a mixture of biological facts and evolutionary concepts entangled in the constricting threads of western myth [the Genesis stories of eating of the tree of knowledge, and eating meat after the f1oodJ. It is these mythic notions that distinguish the visions of human evolution ... from those of modern ecologists and evolutionists for whom human behavior is not dominated by irrevocable actions, but is above all, a matter of constant adaptation, flexibility, and plasticity.... The most plausible ecological strategy would have been to avoid depending on only one foodstuff and to adapt a flexible, mixed diet. In truth, there need have been no single act, no primal trigger, no expulsion from Eden to set off an irreversible series of evolutionary changes. We need not have been shot into existence by one major dietary change [Perper and Schrire 1977:458J. [The myth entangled point of view,] that hunting transformed the ancestral primate into man is found in the seminal essay by Washburn and Avis.... [They argue that] a combination of tool-using and meat-eating were therefore key factors in producing man .... Ardr~y finally says explicitly what Washburn, Campbell, and others only Imply. He lays bare the essence of hunting for the anthropologist, by statmg unequivocally that it lies at the center of human behavior today and that its effects were not only powerful but irreversible. In his terms, we hunted because we were human , but more . unportanr, We are human because we hunted. The hunting model is the counterpart of [the GenesisJ myth .... [Perper and Schrire 1977:454J· In a more technically 1984:262-268) shows that exhaustive analysis, Landau (1983;

accounts of human evolution usually feature four important episodes: terrestriality,. bipedalism, encephalization, or the development of the bram, mteUigence, and language: and civilization, the emergence of technology, morals, and society. . .. [The order of these epISodes J may vary between paleoanthropological accounts [but] they tend to faU into a common narrative structure [which] can also describe traditional literary forms such as the folktale or hero myth (Landau 1984:266-267]. . [One part of the structure which produces the uniform narrative] that hIStory can be seen as a meaningful totality. Behind this lies t e Idea that scattered events of the past can be linked with the present In an overall continuous series ... ; a sequence of events ... orgaOlzed mto an intelligible story with a beginning a middle, and an end [Landau 1984:267J. ' [A second part of narrative structure] is that history can be seen


d . . ns This is especially as a series of critical mom~nts an .tranSIll? .. , their emphasis on true of Darwinian narratives, which, owrg to formation through natural selection, are often cast in t~rms ~ tra:e~ nor are they transtruggle. Events are not inherently clmes, t;~n t~ other evenrs in a sitions, they acquire such value on y 10 re a I series [Landau 1984:267]. . ] is that history can be ex[A third part of the narratrve structure Selectingevents and . into a sequence. I' plained by arrangmg events 'derations of causa uy , . 11 . valves consi f arrangIng them sequentia y 10 be answered separately rom ... ; what happens next often cannot ed and how it all turns our. the questions of how and why It happen . oke specificlaws to Thus although scientific explananons may ,mnvust di,tinguished be , h explanatIOns . . account for events ... ,suc d si I by the sequennaIordenng from explanatory effects produce SImp termine whether scientific of events. In other words, the task ISto ellaws are actually a func. I b ed on natura explanations apparent y as[L d 1984:267]' tion of narrative procedures an au . twa changes are apparent 10 In turning to critical archaeology now (Wylie in press). The 'tho flexive context and interpretatIons 'of the analyses produced WI 10 a re t in b en the presen d it first is that the relarionship etwe d ornic one. And, secon • rItiICal, an econ r intecpreted archaeologthe past is assumed to be a po d . be dlScovere a . that the ISalso assumed that a past can " d impact of that ne so . h ongms an 'd ically that can comment on t e f hi tory is illum,"ate . ideological and c1ass-centere d n arure a d IS the research 0f Handsman i 'II strate 10 I of western The two steps are we II I u hi rical archaeo ogy d ki on the 1510 rk Canaan an (1980, 1981, 1982) war 109 . f modem towns I e f cr 18th . . h a senes a k [ike per e Connecticut. He begms WIt ard appearance 100 I 10 Norman Litchfield which from theIr ourw h t of stereotypes fro , 'II rig t au es century New England VI age~d traditional calendar see; I~ceappeared Rockwell, Grandma Moses, a '11 ge as a complex SOCia Pry of the disThe New England urba~ ~ aan increase in the diS:arlppearance of around 1800 and "is marke y villages, as well as t e a 1:5)' The I98 y tribution of wealth wlthm rnlan I'alization" (Hands man made up of e . na spec . Ian d scap commercial and pro fesslO 1 d an earher h !here were 'll e rep ace oad were classic New England VI ag 'de places in the rId villagedefinedas scattered farms with a few hW' was the New Eng ahnh accompanied ~t Why t en ss w IC snnucleated s, ttlements., e h 'ndustrial proce d system... can hide reI «h mo ern d an agrarian and use d to . ued) Why is ted before" (Han sm and why has that use contmlf f;om what appeare ate Itse 's (lot a tuted so as to segreg America'Spast' ) th "modem 1981:16). ds to argue at Handsman procee


�----------~-------430 American Archaeology Past and Future Leone / Symbolic, Structural, and Critical Archaeology

more simplified world written


of itself but an entirely discontinuities


[noncapitalisr] of being has isobased

earlier agrarian

Thus the history

of the village of Canaan I98I:I8). are explored they sustain

is capable

to reveal the structural

and then to explore of industrially

the missing pieces" urbanization. behind times.


To do so Handsman because

era which va Iue d i d epen d en ce , equality , and family. By m 'II extension it may also be the case t h at many of the museum VI ages, d ' , historic houses living farms, me diia presenta, tions of the past, an VIrtu'deally all popular ' uses of archaeology an d hi or

lated the classes of artifacts

that show the processes

These processes

they are the origins and are hidden since colonial in a tav-

of daily life today and because an ideology

exploitation have existed

that says the processes

These industrial processes are recoverable ern midden (I750-I850) by reasoning that


during the first century of its use, when the center village of Canaan did not exist between I750 and 1850, the everyday lives of the inhabitants of the Lawrence Farmstead [the earlier use of the tavern] did not differ from one year to the next. The range of activities which took place, the equipment and facilities which were used during these activities, and the deposited activities from them will tend to be homogeneous from one analytical unit to the next. Once the process of settlement growth, socia-economic differentiation, and commercial and professional specialization begin, this principle of redundancy will disappear, to be replaced by everyday lives which are variable and non-redundant from one moment to the next. The associated archaeological record of everyday life at the tavern [a later use of the farmstead] should become more individuated ... whether specific [archaeological] units are compared to one another or to units '" of the earlier period [Handsman 1981:13-14J.

Handsman (1981:14) reasons that undifferentiated ramics, bottle glass, window glass, nails and construction

deposits of cehardware rep-

resent a homogeneous way of life, and that a greater degree of dispersion represents greater differentiation. And indeed "the earlier midden displays a coarse-grained structure while the later midden, rellective of a period of urbanization, is characterized by a fine-grained ... individuated ... highly differentiated ... deposit" (Handsman 1981:13-14). A critical archaeologist the well-known sense. The center I8th c t , en ury are dustnahzong elite structed to be and remains has taken a living environment, village, and has shown a mask. That makes it ideology in this case in the Marxist New England that it was con-

villages so commonly assumed to be unaltered since the ' d d . on ee 19th century representations created by an Into ground itself and its large variation in wealth in an

, I and s ow w IC that have an archaeologica component h F thermore such a , , h eated tern. ur cconorruc factors 10 the present ave cr , ised 'thin the setting e disguise WI study should show how those f actors ar ally not well , Ii 'cal factors are usu from the past. Such economic or po 1tI th 'to give them a his'II mate em, IS do He has esrabunderstood in the present an d to I urn ied d has trte to . tory through archaeology as Han s~an h h archaeology, which , , industri 1 existence th roug f settlement pattern lished the switch to an 10 ustrra , h dt denybyt euseo . ' was an existence the society a 0 f the contradICtIOn , ' I essary because 0 .,' and architecture. The denia was nec I' f substantial dispanty 10 , an d the rea rty 0 Ide of shifting farm Iy between the ideal of equa Irry . I vents know e g Th wealth and power. That d erua pre , d ropetty holdings, ese relations, gender definition, wage relanon s, an ~ologist, in turn contribh l factors, when given a hiistory b Y a cnnca arc a producing hi 'I" isrones that f m , "J Ie 0 capIta Ism The point 10 a cnnca arute to an awareness of the ro disguise but do not educate (Lukacs t9 7')'to create a consciousness of d chaeology is to undersran d rh e past 10 or er , , mbolic archaemodern society, , central one 10 sy bliousness IS a tion stems from the pro em f The question a f consclOU haeol y The ques f the range 0 ology and in critical arc aeo og . d r Awareness 0 d f ent an pas. 'h past an 0 atic relationship between pres nt on interpreting r e f rhe ppro'II ftheprese blmo e a possibilities for in uence a k apparent the pro e I d Hodder a the recursiveness of history, , es to this problem has e ulturally . . SensJllVlty II asts are c pnatlOn of the past. h position that a p d b cause it waS 6) to t e 'rete e 2 (1984:2.5-32, 1985:I- , e accurately mterp 'ce that prof h m IS mar he praetJ constituted. If one 0 t e s methodology, then t d and that such a derived from more ngoro~en as culturally constitute This is a paradOXduces rigor must also be s b basis for authofllY. th peoples and be a oguS 'hat 0 er d basis for accuracy may 'lly to Suggestmg t the other han , ical situation which leads loglca 'tical archaeology, on f domination , . n pastS. n 'h h,story 0 I classes develop thelt ow e' to wnte t e f archaeo ogy d'fficult cours . . I de the use 0 presents an equally I b d finition mC u and resistance, which must Y e I nd critical archae, I' trUcrura, a I .. that Itself. . that symbo 1C,s . the new archaeo 0b' There is no question developments m re are two ologists feel t h at t h e

isr y in this country are I , h nvironments " i Iogrst s tas k IS to examme sue h epolitical and ologica!. A critical archaeo h hi




American Archaeology Past and Future

Leone / Symbolic, Structural, and Critical Archaeology


are unfortunate. One is that it has become so rational it is dehumanized, and, as a result, it has diminished its ability to situate itself in its own society and has thus left archaeology vulnerable to a political critique. By "rational" is meant concern with the degree of certainty over conclusions, a concern which has tended in the 1970S and 1980S to restrict conclusions to subsistence, numbers of people, and numbers of things, and away from social relations, symbolic relations, and the role of humans and of tradition. Much of the best of archaeology has become not only mechanical but almost devoid of cultural context. The unintended consequence of such heavy emphasis on a strict epistemology has been a deepening of the chasm between archaeology and its own society. There has been no concern within the materialist tradition in archaeology with how society shapes its own past. This is true too for more traditional Marxist archaeologists in Europe and America. When Trigger (1984a; 1984b) pointed out obvious misuses of the past, he also implied that there is no dominant conceptual apparatus within any kind of archaeology on which archaeologists can formulate a response to his descriptions. There is nothing in materialist theory that would tell us what to do in the face of the scandalous passivity toward Our Own society which characterizes archaeology today. Thus, we can understand Hodder's assertion (1984) that hands are to be kept off other people's pasts, for our own epistemologies are so deadening. An analysis of the role of epistemology is the basis for the claim by critical archaeologists that teaching is political action. These two assumptions are behind an attempt to reach the public with an understanding of how a past is constructed, and of the history of the central economic relations of modern society. The utter irrelevance of mast of historical archaeology today is taken to stand as witness to the power of capitalism to disguise its Own history. Consequently, excavations have been opened to the public in several places in the United States on the East Coast (Leone 1983; Potter and Leone in press) and in Anzona, not JUStto satisfy public curiosity, or to justify spending public money on archaeology, but explicitly to show that the past is not dug up; we think up and with the past. Such an ideological quality is the baSIS for understanding that the past can be interpreted in a multitude of ways, including some that are quite manipulative. The idea of awareness invites professionals or practicioners to ask themselves to see that in celebrating fifty years of the SAA, the celebration has to consist of decisions derived from current social practices. These are then used, largely unintentionally, to shape the celebration of

" depth it may not irabl have, the past. This celebration gives present rea I"ity ad' I' ' the future an mevira y and acts to perpetuate current re anons into d d w: 11know culture must preclude challenges from those so exclu e b ~ a to know this th t t IS our usmess works this way, but we a Iso k now a I bl greater choice as ' , the active consciousn , iousness is presuma Y actively. And III to whether simple duplication is our fate.

Acknowledgments the author at the , ' read by An essay With the same tit 1e as t hi15 'one was 'A ehaeoJogyand su b_ ' for Amenean r 1985 Denver meetings of the Sociery faders for comment. t a number 0 re . d sequently sent out by the aut h or a h k which enunCIate he app roac ra en, the best approach. The comments indicated that t t d embers, was no , _ schools of thought by p J ace an m stressing basic assump d t he current one That essay was abandone d an tions was I am for major J. Meltzer adopted. dsrnan and Robert W. Paynt~r very grateful to Russell G. Han, tion in both essays, DaVId id and orgalllZa suggestions over leas fidenee to rnake th e needed dam and can provided t h e free , h pIeces. ' wnrten to choices that led to bot d observations were C " s an Thoughtful, important OpllllOnA]' B Kehoe, Daniel M'JIer, , ar. I

me by Barbara Bender, Ian Hodder'd t:d~n R. Willey.conversat1o;~ mel Schrire Christopher Tilley, an GO. e and Alison wyhe were I , d II H Mc uire, with Arthur S. Keene, Ran a . d by John portanr sources of orientation. ished material has beengrante . , id 1 Permission to qu ate unpubhs id A Frel e. nd Davl . C. Barrett, James F. Deetz, a

Literature Cited Althusser, Lows Id ologiealState APp;r wster,pages 1971 Ideology and \ Frenchby Ben re translated from t e k
Review Press, New Yor . , . atuses- In


d PhilosoPhy, an186 Monthly

"7- '

ress Ann Arbor,

, G Silverman, . of MirhlganP , Barnett, Steve and M~r~n.,yday Life, UmvelSlty ManI979 Ideology an u oeialArrha,ology, hodologyforS f GlasgoW, Barrett, John C. f D' course' A Mer J UniversIty 0 n . d . The Field 0 rtmeot of Archaeoogr, IS
uscnpt, Depa

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