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

xxi In American archaeology, Walter Willard Taylor, the scholar and the man, has been misunderstood, misread, and mythologized; disparaged, vilified, and hailed as a founding father; ignored, glorified, snubbed, and treated at turns with contempt and compassion. How could one person elicit such a range of feelings and reactions? This book attempts to answer these questions, directly and obliquely, and to do so from a primarily professional point of view. We know about Taylor’s personal life: at times he dealt coarsely with students and colleagues; he loved his dogs; he liked to hunt and brew beer; he built homes in Mexico and New Mexico; he lost his wife to cancer; as a marine and OSS spy he was wounded and captured by the Germans in World War II; and he taught anthropology to fellow prisoners before escaping. These composite images come through in various chapters. Indeed, sketches of Walt Taylor are offered here by many of the volume’s authors—there are remembrances and characterizations and these aid our comprehension . However, we wish to note at the outset that, although parts of this book are, broadly speaking, ethnographic and sociological, even psychological, the book does not significantly focus on Taylor’s personal life. Our goal has been to showcase Taylor’s contribution to the history of the field of American archaeology , not (or at least not solely) to present the complex history of Walter Taylor. Preface Allan L. Maca, Jonathan E. Reyman, and William J. Folan Preface xxii Taylor was a scholar saddled with numerous contradictory myths and perceptions , most of which derive from responses to his famous book.At age thirtyfour , he published a pathbreaking treatise that stunned his senior colleagues, damaged his career, and endured in print and influence well beyond his death in 1997. A Study of Archeology (1948) was issued by the American Anthropological Association and was intended to close the distance between archaeology and anthropology. The text was popular for the countless aspersions it cast but some found its theory and idiom impenetrable. If Taylor’s book and objectives have been difficult for many to interpret, it has proven more difficult still to securely identify Taylor’s role in American archaeology, the sources of his ideas, the meaning and orientation of his magnum opus, and his influence on the field. We and the other volume contributors attempt to resolve some but certainly not all of these issues and to answer a select number of questions that are complicated or common or both. At the very least we want this book to breathe some life and analysis into the mesh of seeming contradictions and inconsistencies that characterize notions of Taylor’s place in American archaeology. Many contradictions are plainly irresolvable; in fact, several of the volume authors contradict one another. But this should not be a surprise: our book is a beginning, in many ways an initial survey and excavation of a monument that will both elude and attract visitors for many years to come. This book project formally began in 2003 with a forum at the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) meetings in Milwaukee, organized by Allan Maca andcalled“WalterW.Taylor:ACriticalAppreciation.”MacahadfirstreadTaylor’s book in a graduate seminar at Harvard University taught by Robert Preucel in the early 1990s. At that time he discovered that Taylor’s book is complex and poorly understood and that it was a central source of controversy. Between 1995 and 2001, Maca observed that a form of Walter Taylor’s “conjunctive approach” was being adopted and encouraged by senior scholars in Maya archaeology. Because of the unusual absence in the Mayanist literature of a discussion of Taylor’s book, as well as a general lack of attribution to Taylor at that time, Maca wrote a dissertation chapter that addressed Taylor’s apparent influence on the present-day archaeology of Copan in Honduras. An advisor, the epigrapher David Stuart, suggested that Maca contact William Folan, a Mayanist working in Mexico, and that they discuss pursuing the topic in more depth. Folan, with Jonathan Reyman, had tried in 1988 to assemble a festschrift volume for Taylor; Folan had been a student and friend and Reyman a Ph.D. student of Taylor. Because of lasting tensions in the field, however, they found few scholars willing to comment in print and the project was abandoned a year after it began. Folan and Reyman agreed to re-engage with the topic when Maca asked for their expertise and assistance in thinking about the...


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.