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The Archaeology of Household Activities

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There were a number of chapters I thought were exceptionally well written and researched... valuable reading for all classical and historic archaeologists unfamiliar with Schiffer's work or with prehistoric archaeology, where point pronveniencing, object functions, use of space, and similar foci are routine. Others will enjoy reading Chapters 3 and 7, 8 and 9, regardless of their archaeological background. Journal of Anthropological Research, Susan Kent, Old Dominion University, vol 56, 2000.

Household archaeology has traditionally relied on architectural remains to investigate the role of households in the wider community, often ignoring the information that smaller artifacts can provide about the individuality of household members and the complexity of domestic relationships. Arguing for a closer, multidisciplinary examination of all the evidence at hand, Archaeology of Household Activities brings together recent archaeological research on domestic dwellings in pre-Roman Britain, Classic Mayan civilization, Greek and Roman cultures, and colonial Australia and the Americas. Using artifact-based approaches to explore the spatial, gender and status organization of household activities, the contributors provide a more holistic view of the dynamics of domestic life in communities of the past.

Contributors: Rani Alexander, Penelope Allison, Bradley Ault, Marilyn Goldberg, Vincent LaMotta, Susan Lawrence, Eleanor Leach, Brian McKee, Karen Meadows, Lisa Nevett, Michael Brian Schiffer, andSuzanne Spencer-Wood.

This book had its beginnings at the Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in San Francisco in December 1990, where I met Nicholas Cahill for the first time and where we discussed the lack of good contextualized material culture studies in Classical archaeology, particularly of artefact assemblages in domestic contexts. At the AIA meeting in New Orleans in 1992 Nicholas and I started to draw up a list of potential contributors to produce a colloquium on the subject and, with Stephen Dyson’s urgings, included archaeologists with research interests in parts of the world not normally represented at the AIA meetings. At the Theoretical Archaeology Conference in Durham in 1993 Lisa Nevett and I met each other (finally!) and at the Australian Women in Archaeology Conference in Sydney in February 1995 I met Suzanne Spencer-Wood, Marilyn Goldberg and Susan Lawrence. As a result of these encounters, a colloquium called ‘Household Archaeology’ took place at the AIA meeting in San Diego in December 1995. Suzanne Spencer-Wood encouraged me to prepare it for publication. Versions of all the papers in the original colloquium have been included in the book, along with three others.

Therefore I must first express my gratitude to all the organizers of the above conferences for facilitating these international contacts and especially to the Archaeological Institute of America Conference Fund for making it possible for Lisa Nevett and myself to take part in the colloquium in San Diego. I am also especially grateful to Stephen Dyson for all his encouragement, to all the original participants of the colloquium and to the contributors to this book. A visiting fellowship in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield and a U2000 Post-doctoral Research Fellowship in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sydney have provided me with the time and intellectual input to prepare this book for publication. I would like to thank the staff and students of both departments for their support. I am grateful to Lisa Nevett and Eleanor Leach for assistance in the editing of the papers. Finally, I wish to thank Vicky Peters, Steven Jarman and Nadia Jacobson of Routledge for their patience and support in preparing this work for publication.

About the Author
Penelope M. Allison is a Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Sydney.
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