Review: Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction

Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction
Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction by Paul G. Bahn
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

It’s frightfully smashing that Bertie Wooster has written this very short introduction to archaeology. What-ho!

This is a weird book. I do NOT recommend that anyone read it as a first introduction to archaeology.

The tone is flip and silly. The author spends the first chapter saying there’s too much being published in archaeology today, so much so that it is not even worth the space on library shelves. Then he says there aren’t enough archaeologists to do the analysis. He ends the chapter by pooh-poohing the very premises on which the discipline is based. (In the next chapter, he basically says no archaeologists are smart enough to understand the science behind any archaeological dating techniques.)

Tell, me, why did Bahn choose to write this book? Apparently, he’s written a lot of books on archaeology but, he doesn’t seem to respect it as a field of study. He focuses on archaeology’s failings and, of all things, on the inbred politics of 1960s academe. Why would anyone need to know that stuff in an introductory volume? If I were new to archaeology, I would want to know the principles on which it’s based, field and lab practices, a few major contributions that archaeology has made to our understanding of humanity’s past, and what archaeologists are working towards now. I would not want cheesy political cartoons and his bizarrely outdated whining about feminism.

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