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Archaeology from the Earth

Archaeology from the Earth
Item Code: IDE111
Author: Sir Mortimer Wheeler
Publisher: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2004
ISBN: 8121511372
Pages: 232 (B & W Illus: 31, Figures: 21)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 8.9" X 5.9"
weight of book 534 gms
From the Jacket:
R.E.M. Wheeler's Archaeology from the Earth has long been recognized as a classic. Both for its passionate statement concerning the purpose of archaeology and the lucid and methodical exposition of the techniques of excavation, this volume still remains unmatched. Although there has been an explosion of forensic techniques in the recovery and analysis of various kinds of archaeological data since then, there cannot be a better introduction to the actual task of excavation than what Wheeler wrote on the basis of his British and Indian experience.

It is something like a quarter of a century since I first undertook to write this book. I now know less than I did then, and will probably in the following pages more often recommend what not to do than what to do. That is perhaps as it should be. It cannot be affirmed too often that bad scholarship in the field generally involves the fruitless and final obliteration of evidence, and bad scholarship is still all too prevalent there. On the positive side, I have described certain methods and principles which, on the basis of trail and much error, I have found less harmful than others that have been employed. Many of the selected methods and principles are derived from those of the greatest of all archaeological excavators, General Pitt Rivers. Other I have learned from colleagues and from the workmen whom I employed in various parts of the world. A few may be of my own devising. They are offered, not as law, but as the notes and reminiscences of a lengthy and varied archaeological experience. For the most part I have refrained from discussing aspects of field -archaeology of which I myself have no considerable first- hand knowledge. The repeated use of the first personal pronoun is reminder to the reader that some at least of the limitations of this essay are appreciated by the author. If there be a connecting theme in the following pages, it is this: an insistence that the archaeologist is digging up, not things, but people. Unless the bits and pieces with which he deals are alive to him, unless he has himself the common touch with which the deals are alive to him, unless he has himself the common touch, he had better seek out other disciplines for his exercise. Of this more will be said in the first and last chapters, but I would make it clear at once that here is an earthy book, inapt to clerkly hands. Not for an instant, of course, is it pretended that the spade is mightier than the pen; they are twin instrument; but, in this matter of digging, the controlling mind must have in a developed degree that robust three-dimensional quality which is less immediately essential to some other inquires. In a simple direct sense, archaeology is a science that must be lived, must be 'seasoned with humanity'. Dead archaeology is the driest dust that blows. The substance of this book constituted the Rhind Lectures for 1951. In its preparation I must isolate two acknowledgements: to Miss kathleen, my colleagues and merciless critic for many years, and to Miss Theodora Newbould who has relentlessly urged me from chapter to chapter and cannot disown all responsibility for the results. For permission to reproduce illustrations thanks are due to the Society of Antiquaries of London, the Louvre Museum, the Prehistoric Society, the editor of Antiquity, the British School of Egyptian Archaeology, the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, and the American School of Oriental Research.


  List of Plates ix
  List of Figures xi
I. Introductory 1
II. Historical 6
III. Chronology 23
IV. Stratigraphy 40
V. The Layout of an Excavation 62
VI. The Excavation of a Structure 72
VII. On Digging Town-sites 86
VIII. Burials 93
IX. Watch-Makers' Jobs 105
X. Tactics and Strategy 114
XI. Staff 130
XII. Tools 153
XIII. The Pottery-Shed 157
XIV. The Field-Laboratory 169
XV. Photography 174
XVI. Publication and Publicity 182
XVII. What Are We Digging Up, and Why? 200
  Select Bibliography 218
  Index 219


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