The Future of the Past: Archaeology in the 21st CenturyPaperback
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- Publisher: Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
- Format: Paperback | 288 pages
- Dimensions: 129mm x 197mm x 23mm | 313g
- Publication date: 1 April 2003
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 075381367X
- ISBN 13: 9780753813676
- Illustrations note: 32 B/W Photo\Illu(s),30 Diagram(s),10 Map(s)
Most scientific disciplines experienced fundamental revolutions during the twentieth century. But not archaeology. Its time has now come, however. More and more highly specialised scientists are taking over the investigation of the past. Using satellites, aircraft and helicopters, they are screening entire regions around the world in an attempt to find hidden traces of the past. What's more, their discoveries are changing our views of prehistoric civilizations - and the new views are often in complete contrast to archaeology's established schools of thought. It is becoming increasingly clear that the ancients knew more than we expected. What was the effect of the volcanic eruption of Thera? What caused the collapse of the Minoan kingdom on Crete? Did Atlantis ever exist? In THE FUTURE OF THE PAST, Eberhard Zangger takes the reader into the field to look at various excavations around the world; explains current thinking in archaeological research; and explores the new methods and techniques that have only recently become available and the new insights gained from them.
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Eberhard Zangger, born in 1958, is an expert in the reconstruction of archaeological landscapes. He earned a PhD in geology from Stanford University, and was Senior Research Associate in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge. In 1991, he founded his own consulting bureau Geoarchaeology International in Zurich. Archaeological institutes across the world have invited Zangger to investigate the landscapes around many important archaeological sites. He has written and co-authored about seventy scientific articles which have appeared in American Journal of Archaeology, Journal of Field Archaeology, Oxford Journal of Archaeology and Hesperia. The Future of the Past is his fourth book.
Talented geoarchaeologist Zangger (The Flood from Heaven, 1992, etc.) provides an engrossing overview of the changes in our understanding of Aegean prehistory. It was standard for many decades to blame the collapse of Minoan high culture on the eruption of Thera, and to attribute the ends of Mycenae and Troy similarly to natural catastrophes. But Zangger's particular bailiwick, the period between the production of the first tools and the beginning of classical antiquity, has undergone significant development over the past few years that has sent the simple catastrophic theories packing as single explanations for calamitous cultural moments. In energetic prose, he tells of geoarchaeologists bringing aboard other scientists-palaeo-ecologists, soil specialists, hydrologists, and archaeozoologists-to circumvent the problems associated with specialization and "to combine the data gathered into a single panoramic view of landscape and culture," uncovering vital but gradual aspects of change that might include climate, migration, the great wars of 1200 b.c., the invasions of the Sea People, and the breakdown in land management. As much as Zangger admires the introduction of high tech and rarified mathematics to geoarchaeology, he is also deeply humanist and will never forego fieldwork (which includes a lot of "sitting on high viewpoints, looking at the landscape, and pondering") as a research tool. He also firmly believes in two old chestnuts: that a fresh eye can provide unexpected insights ("the circle of obvious experts does not always include the people best able to solve a problem") and that troublemakers and dissidents make the world of research go round (which is why he ponders at length the idea that Troy may be Atlantis). This touch of fustiness may also explain his occasional nationalist utterings, understandably disquieting to some, such as, "Traditional archaeology and neoclassical thinking were largely molded by German scholars. . . . In the twentieth century, Germany has lost its leading role. With a little courage it could win it back in the twenty-first." A sensibly holistic approach to modern geoarchaeology. (Two 16-page b&w photo inserts) (Kirkus Reviews)