23 April 2011

RIP Lewis Binford

Lewis Binford, one of the giants of 20th century archaeology, died earlier this month at the age of 79. He was among the leaders of the 1960s New (or 'Processual') Archaeology, which took the discipline from its culture-history roots into the thickets of scientific explanation. It's impossible to underestimate his impact on ethnoarchaeology, archaeological theory, and the study of the palaeolithic. He got his PhD at Michigan, where, as Wikipedia notes
he saw a sharp contrast between the "excitement" of the anthropology department's cultural anthropologists (which included Leslie White) and the "people in white coats counting their potsherds" in the Kelsey Museum.
 As an alum of the Classical Archaeology PhD program based in the Kelsey I'm duly amused/outraged! (Though I think the potsherds were all counted by the time I got there.)
Obituaries in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, but the best I've seen is this one by Laurence Guy Straus (via John Hawks). 

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