On why we still need ethnoarchaeology

Author(s): Karen Lupo

Year: 2015


Although ethnoarchaeology is viewed as an important tool of analogy for the archaeological record, it has been criticized as being too descriptive, context bound, and limited by the generation of cautionary tales. These and other criticisms have inadvertently led to a sharp decline in ethnoarchaeological research in recent times. In this paper I argue that ethnoarchaeology is an underutilized methodology that can be expanded with new technologies to test and shed light on the nature of important factors that are often identified as prime catalysts of sociocultural change. Here I demonstrate this potential by presenting ethnoarchaeological data on the changes the nature of food sharing- an often cited "leveling mechanism" that sustains egalitarianism in small scale societies. Disruption of sharing and egalitarian ideals are often viewed as one of the pressures giving rise to social inequalities. Comparative analyses of these data show when and how food sharing dissolves in response to different external pressures, including ecological degradation.

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Cite this Record

On why we still need ethnoarchaeology. Karen Lupo. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395778)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;