By C. C. Lamberg-Karlovsky
The purpose of the seventeen essays during this quantity is either to explain fresh theoretical advances in archaeological study and to offer significant interpretations of prehistoric information drawn from a number of cultures and time frames, together with Mesoamerica, valuable Asia, India, and China.
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Additional resources for Archaeological Thought in America
They ignore the Marxist view that while human groups make their own history in terms of pre-existing values and ideas no less than in terms of nature and technology, these values and ideas have themselves been shaped by economic activity (Kohl 1981a: 112). They also ignore Childe's (1942) well-documented argument that while the superstructure has historical significance, its influence is mainly negative. Although political manipulation or ideological obfuscation can slow or halt change, progress can result only from changes in the means and relations of production.
Evolution is no longer seen as a unilinear sequence, as neoevolutionists viewed it, or as a set of multilinear sequences, each correlated with a different type of natural environment, as Steward did. It is not enough to explain how societies evolved from one level to another; archaeologists must also explain how each society has been influenced by its relations with its neighbors. What is known in the way of generalizations about human behavior and cultural change must be used, as far as possible, to try to explain individual situations that in their specific detail are unique.
Also explicitly Marxist is the view of ideology as a factor masking unequal social relations and therefore seeking to diffuse social conflict. This view is now being applied to understanding both how ancient societies operated and how archaeological evidence is interpreted (Miller and Tilley 1984). Other views have been influenced at least in part by Marxist concepts. The idea that each prehistoric society was in some irreducible fashion a unique entity and that its origins must therefore be explained in a historically specific way echoes Marx's observation that what are transformed at every stage of history by the changing relations of production are the existing conventions of societies.