In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

xv The contributors to Prophet, Pariah, and Pioneer: Walter W. Taylor and Dissension in American Archaeology explore Taylor’s life and work in archaeology. This is not a festschrift volume. Festschrifts are often thematically disparate statements by former students and colleagues. This book focuses on Taylor as a teacher and colleague and reviews his substantive research in the archaeology of the American Southwest and Mesoamerica. Most important, the chapters herein explore Taylor’s detailed critique of Americanist archaeology (research undertaken by archaeologists trained in America, wherever they may work) and his formulation of what he called the “conjunctive approach,” which offered direction for improving the field. As the editors indicate in their preface, some of the chapters in this book are critical of Taylor and his work and so depart from the generally celebratory nature of festschrift volumes. This book is not simply an exploration of an interesting personality in American archaeology. Many of the chapters are written by scholars who are known for their contributions to archaeological method and theory, and the volume as a whole should stimulate new dialogues in those areas and reflection on the nature of archaeological discourse. Walter Willard Taylor (1913–1997), was educated at Yale, as an undergraduate , and Harvard, where he earned his Ph.D. in anthropology in 1943. He was a Foreword Linda Cordell Foreword xvi veteran (and POW) of World War II, and professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. In his doctoral dissertation,revised and subsequently published in 1948 as A Study of Archeology, Taylor provided a detailed critique of historical particularist archaeology, preoccupied with the systematics of time and space, that was prevalent in American archaeology in the first half of the twentieth century. His conjunctive approach was offered as a strategy for revitalizing the field (Watson 1983;Willey and Sabloff 1993: 96–152). A Study of Archeology became required reading in many graduate seminars in archaeological method and theory taught in universities in the later decades of the twentieth century, and the book is still in print (Taylor 1983). Taylor made enemies and had difficulty implementing his research agenda for reasons the contributors to this volume explore in detail, but the fact is that the shortcomings of early twentieth-century approaches continue to haunt archaeology . Many perspectives that are seen as innovative today (see Hodder 1991; Pauketat 2000; Hegmon 2003) owe an intellectual debt to Taylor. Here I explore briefly two facets of Taylor’s work that are prominent in his legacy: the nature of his critique of Americanist archaeology and the strategy he used to deliver his ideas to his colleagues. As Taylor (1983: 43) pointed out, archaeology “per se is no more than a method and a set of specialized techniques for the gathering of cultural information ” or “the production of cultural information” (ibid., 44). Absent contemporary records, the data, observations, and stuff of archaeology are only “(1) spatial relationships, (2) quantity, and (3) chemico-physical specifications” (Taylor 1983: 145). Archaeology requires theory derived from another discipline (or disciplines) to interpret and make its data comprehensible or useful. The tools of archaeology may be used in the context of classical or biblical studies, architecture, or other disciplines. In the Americas, archaeology is usually offered in departments of anthropology where the intellectual goal is to understand culture at all times and places and the ways in which it develops and changes over time. Most Americanist archaeologists consider themselves anthropologists, whose mission it is to contribute to understanding the workings of culture in general. In outlining his conjunctive approach, Taylor (1983: 153–154) argued that archaeology proceeds through different levels of analysis. Archaeological study may present the temporal sequence of data and contexts, producing local chronology , what he called “chronicle.” For example, this might include a sequence of pottery types and house styles in a given area. Interpretation and synthesis of data and data contexts would produce ethnography (of a past society for archaeology ) or in Taylor’s terms, historiography. This would be a basic description of the past society comparable to a descriptive ethnography of a living group, such as a tribe or community. Taylor viewed the comparative study and interpretation of archaeological data and contexts as comparable to ethnology, which is the xvii Foreword comparative study of living societies. Such comparison might be in chronological or cultural terms. A chronological example might be a study of the development of Pueblo Indian culture over time. A cultural ethnology might compare...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.