Explorations in Behavioral Archaeology

Behavioral archaeology, defined as the study of people-object interactions in all times and places, emerged in the 1970s, in large part because of the innovative work of Michael Schiffer and colleagues. This volume provides an overview of how behavioral archaeology has evolved and how it has affected the field of archaeology at large.

The contributors to this volume are Schiffer’s former students, from his first doctoral student to his most recent. This generational span has allowed for chapters that reflect Schiffer’s research from the 1970s to 2012. They are iconoclastic and creative and approach behavioral archaeology from varied perspectives, including archaeological inference and chronology, site formation processes, prehistoric cultures and migration, modern material culture variability, the study of technology, object agency, and art and cultural resources. Broader questions addressed include models of inference and definitions of behavior, study of technology and the causal performances of artifacts, and the implications of artifact causality in human communication and the flow of behavioral history. 

William H. Walker is a professor of anthropology at New Mexico State University. He is the coauthor of The Joyce Well Site: On the Frontier of the Casas Grandes World (University of Utah Press, 2002) and Expanding Archaeology (University of Utah Press, 1995).

James M. Skibo is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at Illinois State University. He is coeditor of the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, editor of the Foundations of Archaeological Inquiry series, and author of numerous books on anthropology and archaeology, including Ants for Breakfast (University of Utah Press, 1999). 

Praise and Reviews:

“Well written, accessible, and current. The papers included here attest to the fact that behavioral archaeology is still very much alive and well. A welcome contribution to the general field of archaeology.”
—Michael J. O’Brien, professor of anthropology, University of Missouri; coauthor of I’ll Have What She’s Having: Mapping Social Behavior