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The Archaeology of Islands


Part of Topics in Contemporary Archaeology

  • Date Published: September 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521619615

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About the Authors
  • Archaeologists have traditionally considered islands as distinct physical and social entities. In this book, Paul Rainbird discusses the historical construction of this characterization and questions the basis for such an understanding of island archaeology. Through a series of case studies of prehistoric archaeology in the Mediterranean, Pacific, Baltic, and Atlantic seas and oceans, he argues for a decentering of the land in favor of an emphasis on the archaeology of the sea and, ultimately, a new perspective on the making of maritime communities. The archaeology of islands is thus unshackled from approaches that highlight boundedness and isolation, and replaced with a new set of principles - that boundaries are fuzzy, islanders are distinctive in their expectation of contacts with people from over the seas, and that island life can tell us much about maritime communities. Debating islands, thus, brings to the fore issues of identity and community and a concern with Western construction of other peoples.

    • Engages with contemporary debates in archaeology
    • Uses sources from history and anthropology as well as archaeology
    • Offers a new perspective on the characterisation of islands
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… this is an interesting and engaging introduction to this sub-discipline for the anthropologist/archaeologist, and an introduction to the delights of archaeology for the new reader.' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2007
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521619615
    • length: 216 pages
    • dimensions: 227 x 150 x 10 mm
    • weight: 0.286kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. 'A consciousness of the earth and ocean': the creation of islands
    2. Seas of islands: anthropology, biogeography, archaeology and postcolonialism
    3. An archaeology of the sea
    4. The Mediterranean: Malta
    5. Oceania: Pohnpei and the eastern Carolines
    6. The Baltic: Gotland
    7. Atlantic Archipelago: the western seaways of Europe
    8. Conclusion - islands and histories of the sea.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • The Archaeology and Paleoecology of Coastal and Island Environments
  • Author

    Paul Rainbird, University of Wales, Lampeter
    Paul Rainbird is Head of Department and Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Wales, Lampeter. A fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, he is the author of The Archaeology of Micronesia and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology and Research in Archaeological Education.

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