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The Ancient Mind: Elements of Cognitive Archaeology

The Ancient Mind: Elements of Cognitive Archaeology

Paperback New Directions in Archaeology

Edited by Colin Renfrew, Edited by Ezra B. W. Zubrow, Series edited by Wendy Ashmore, Series edited by Francoise Audouze, Series edited by Cyprian Broodbank, Series edited by Tim Murray, Series edited by Colin Renfrew, Series edited by Nathan Schlanger, Series edited by Andrew Sherratt, Series edited by Timothy Taylor

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  • Publisher: CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Format: Paperback | 212 pages
  • Dimensions: 188mm x 242mm x 18mm | 458g
  • Publication date: 26 October 2004
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge
  • ISBN 10: 0521456207
  • ISBN 13: 9780521456203
  • Edition statement: New.
  • Illustrations note: 41 b/w illus. 6 maps 15 tables
  • Sales rank: 1,285,964

Product description

One of the most troubling problems in archaeology is to determine the manner and content of prehistoric thought. A fundamental challenge is to develop the theory, methodology and tools to understand human cognition. Cognitive archaeology as a subject is still in its infancy, and archaeologists are adopting a variety of approaches. One direction has been to develop an 'interpretationist', anti-scientific, literary approach. Another has been to use a linguistic framework and develop a hermeneutic, semiotic approach. A third approach develops a new direction in prehistoric cognitive research which is rooted in the scientific tradition and in an empirical methodology. It draws upon the cognitive, the mathematical and the computer sciences in an attempt to understand what techniques can be used appropriately on archaeological data, and how to implement them efficiently. This is the approach adopted by the contributors to The Ancient Mind. Together, they begin to develop a science of cognitive archaeology.

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Review quote

"...an important reference work for any library that attempts to stay abreast of current developments in archaeology." Dennis E. Smith, Religious Studies Review

Table of contents

Foreword; Part I. Introduction: 1. Towards a cognitive archaeology; Part II. The Interdisciplinary Underpinning: 2. Interpretations and testability in theories about prehistoric thinking; 3. Archaeology and cognitive science; 4. From mental modularity to generalized intelligence: a cognitive interpretation of the Middle/Upper Paleolithic transition; 5. Are images animated? The psychology of images in Ancient Greece; Part III. Approaches to Cult Practice and Transcendental Belief Systems: 6. The archaeology of religion; 7. Ancient Zapotec ritual and religion: an application of the direct historical approach; 8. The meaning of death; 9. Prehistoric cognition and the science of archaeology; Part IV. Prehistoric Conceptions of Space and Time: 10. Symbols and signposts: understanding the prehistoric petroglyphs of the British Isles; 11. Knowledge representation and archaeology: a cognitive example using GIS; 12 Dials: a study in the physical representation of cognitive systems; Part V. The Material Basis of Cognitive Inference: Technology: 13. Cognitive aspects of 'technique'; 14. Mindful technology: unleashing the Chaine Operatoire for an archaeology of mind; 15. Prehistoric technology: a cognitive science?; Part VI. The Material Basis of Cognitive Inference: Writing Systems; 16. Variation and change in symbol systems: case studies in Elamite Cuneiform; 17. Figure and text in Mesopotamia: match and mismatch; Part VII. Conclusion: 18. Cognitive archaeology reconsidered.