New Book Received: Creating the Human Past: An Epistemology of Pleistocene Archaeology. By Robert G. Bednarik, Archaeopress, 2013, Price £14.95, ISBN 978 1 905 73963 9
This book examines systematically both the theoretical and practical issues that have characterized the discipline over the past two centuries. Some of the historically most consequential mistakes in archaeology are dissected and explained, together with the effects of the related controversies. The theoretical basis of the discipline is deliberated in some detail, leading to the diagnosis that there are in fact numerous archaeologies, all with different notions of commensurability, ideologies, and purposes. Their various perspectives of what archaeology is and does are considered and the range of views of the human past is illuminated in this book. How humans became what they are today is of profound importance to understanding ourselves, both as a species and individually. Our psychology, cognition, diseases, intellect, communication forms, physiology, predispositions, ideologies, culture, genetics, behavior, and, perhaps most importantly, our reality constructs are all the result of our evolutionary history. Therefore the models archaeology—especially Pleistocene archaeology—creates of our past are not just narratives of what happened in human history; they are fundamental to every aspect of our existence.