Anthropology and Classical Studies Faculty Research


Constructing Frames of Reference: An Analytical Method for Archaeological Theory Building using Ethnographic and Environmental Data Sets

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date

Spring 3-1-2002


Arguably the most prominent 20th-century American archaeologist, Lewis Binford secured his reputation by decades of vigorous research devoted to how the record formed and how thereby to learn about the past. His new book (CFR) has archaeological implications, pursued in passages on the Near Eastern and other Neolithic records, but is a detailed study of 390 ethnographic hunter-gatherer cultures. CFR takes the sound view that the range of documented variation holds clues to the transformation of past hunter-gatherers. Binford's 1978 Nunamiut ethnoarchaeology partly extended arguments about Paleolithic assemblage variation advanced in the 1960s. CFR is perhaps Binford's most sustained argument yet, extending his 1968 `Post-Pleistocene adaptations' on hunter-gatherer tendency to agriculture and social complexity.

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