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The Bordes-binford Debate: Transatlantic Interpretive Traditions In Paleolithic Archaeology

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The Bordes-binford Debate: Transatlantic Interpretive Traditions In Paleolithic Archaeology

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Title: The Bordes-binford Debate: Transatlantic Interpretive Traditions In Paleolithic Archaeology
Author: Wargo, Melissa Canady
Abstract: In the 1960s, Lewis Binford, a young American archaeologist, challenged François Bordes, a venerable French prehistorian, over the interpretation of a taxonomy Bordes had developed to describe stone tools of the European Middle Paleolithic period (Mousterian). Ostensibly about the meaning of variability in Mousterian stone tool assemblages, the Bordes-Binford debate exposed a deep rift in the field of archaeology about how the deep past should be studied and interpreted. The intellectual clash has been cast subsequently in dichotomous terms: old versus young, descriptive versus explanatory, idiographic versus nomothetic, Old World versus New World. The Bordes-Binford debate, however, was not merely a singular event in the intellectual history of Paleolithic archaeology. It is the main thesis of this work that the Bordes-Binford debate is emblematic of the differing traditions within the discipline of archaeology as it was practiced by American and French scholars and that an understanding of the debate furthers understanding of how archaeology developed and is practiced and conceptualized in those countries today. To that extent, the Bordes-Binford debate is best understood in its transatlantic context; that is, it grew out of an encounter and exchange between protagonists who were profoundly influenced by their respective national and cultural experiences. The debate and its aftermath changed the practice of Paleolithic archaeology on both sides of the Atlantic.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10106/1766
Date: 2009-09-16
External Link: http://www.uta.edu/ra/real/editprofile.php?onlyview=1&pid=1542

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