Merged citations. This "Cited by" count includes citations to the following articles in Scholar. Add co-authors Co-authors. Upload PDF. Follow this author. New articles by this author. New citations to this author. New articles related to this author's research. Email address for updates. My profile My library Metrics Alerts. Sign in. Ian Morris. Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis About this title This book shows the reader how much archaeologists can learn from recent developments in cultural history.
From the Back Cover : This book shows the reader how much archaeologists can learn from recent developments in cultural history. Acknowledgments The author and publisher gratefully acknowledge the permission granted to reproduce the copyright material in this book: Figure 2. Muller, Structural studies of art styles. Cordwell ed. Fritz, Paleopsychology today: ideational systems and human adaptation in prehistory.
Redman et al. Ray, Material metaphor, social interaction and historical reconstructions: Exploring patterns of association and symbolism in the IgboUko corpus. In The Archaeology of Contextual Meanings, ed. Hodder, , pp.
Flannery and J. Marcus, Ancient Zapotec ritual and religion: An application of the direct historical approach. Renfrew and E. Zubrow, , pp. Ferguson, and R. Capone and R. Preucel, Ceramic semiotics: Women, pottery, and social meanings at Kotyiti Pueblo. Preucel ed. Parmentier, Times of the signs: Modalities of history and levels of social structure in Belau. Mertz and R. Parmentier, , pp. Donald, Hominid enculturation and cognitive evolution. Renfrew and C. Scarre, , pp. Every effort has been made to trace copyright holders and to obtain their permission for the use of copyright material.
In addition to referring to the eponymous discipline, he uses it to describe a method of analysis appropriate for the human sciences. This analysis involves determining the discursive practices associated with the historical development of each episteme or intellectual sphere. These discursive practices refer to the complex and largely hidden interrelations between institutions, techniques, social groups, and perceptual modes.
What might an archaeology of archaeology look like? One way to begin our investigation is to start with the epistemological standing of Anglo-American archaeology. Is it a social science like cultural anthropology and sociology? Is it a humanity like English literature and art history? Or is it something else? Perhaps a hybrid of all three? And, if the latter is the case, how do these different theories articulate with one another? In the modern era, archaeologists have offered a multiplicity of responses to these questions.
These responses have tended to be structured by the disciplinary distinctions between anthropology and history as they have been articulated on either side of the Atlantic. American scholars, like Gordon Willey and Philip Phillips , Lewis Binford , James Deetz , and William Longacre , have argued that archaeology is part of anthropology.
British scholars, such as Stuart Piggott , Glyn Daniel , and Ian Hodder b , have generally regarded it as a historical discipline. The controversy over the disciplinary status of archaeology continues to this day e. In this book, I intervene in this debate in two ways. To do this, I argue that archaeology is a semiotic enterprise.
This assertion, while perhaps not familiar to many archaeologists, is not particularly novel. This is because all disciplines must attend to the linkages between their theories, data, and social practices in the pursuit of meaning. It can be argued that all archaeologists of whatever theoretical persuasion, be they processualists, behavioralists, selectionists, agency theorists, feminists, indigenous archaeologists, and so on, make use of the same procedures of logical reasoning in giving meaning to the past.
It is thus possible, and indeed highly desirable, to foster theoretical disunity within semiotic unity. This view may be enhanced by the fact that there are now several critiques of structuralism and various poststructuralist agendas are emerging within postprocessual archaeologies. For Christopher Tilley , structuralism has been superceded by a growing interest in various forms of discourse theory, including rhetoric and linguistic tropes.
The dominant approaches to semiotics in archaeology today are those offered by postprocessual and cognitive archaeologists. These are all, in one form or another, derived from the writings of Ferdinand de Saussure and the various revisions made by his structuralist and poststructuralist followers. I contend, along with many other scholars e.
These limitations thus pose as much a problem for Colin Renfrew a and his cognitive archaeology program, as it does for Tilley , and his celebration of ambiguity and metaphor. Such an approach requires identifying the different kinds of signs that humans use in the semiotic mediation of culture. Certain meanings are given preeminent status in the negotiation of power relations and these can be seen as semiotic ideologies Keane Finally, this approach involves acknowledging that archaeological interpretation is itself a social semiotic act.
This fact implies that our collective interpretations are, and always will be, partial and provisional. It does not imply, however, that everything is relative or that there is no growth of archaeological knowledge. My second intervention in this debate involves reconsidering material culture as social practice.
The distinction between material culture and materiality is crucial. He originally sought to identify the spatial patterning of material culture and determine how it correlated with ethnic groups. What he found was considerable variability expressed at several different scales. In the Lozi kingdom, for example, status groups actively used material culture to establish their authority while within Lozi households family tensions were supported and continued by means of particular kinds of pottery decoration.
It can thus be argued that material culture has not been adequately theorized. These issues are the subject of new studies of materiality in social anthropology Appadurai b; Buchli ; Gell ; Miller ; Myers and are now being explored in archaeology Chilton ; Meskell ; Orser ; Tilley We thus need to shift our focus away from material culture per se toward the whole range of material engagements with the world. An archaeology so constituted is especially well positioned to contribute to a fuller understanding of cultural semiosis.
What is Semiotics? Signs are such things as ideas, words, images, sounds, and objects that are multiply implicated in the communicative process. Semiotics thus investigates sign systems and the modes of representation that humans use to convey their emotions, ideas, and life experiences.
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Semiotic analysis, in various forms, is widely used today in a broad range of disciplines, including anthropology, architecture, art, communications, cultural studies, education, linguistics, literature, political science, sociology, and psychology. Plato, for example, held that verbal signs are only incomplete representations of the true nature of things since the realm of ideas is independent of its 6 Archaeological Semiotics representation by words.
Aristotle recognized the instrumental nature of the linguistic sign, observing that human thought proceeds by the use of signs and that spoken words are the symbols of mental experience. The former was immaterial and separate from the existing object. This move allowed him to reformulate traditional ontological issues, such as the questions of universals, the number of categories, and the ontological status of relations, as semantic questions.
In An Essay Concerning Human Understanding — published in , he considered it one of the three branches of science. He proposed that the true nature of language systems could only be revealed by studying what they share in common with all other semiologic systems. For Saussure, linguistics was just one branch of this general science, albeit the most complex and universal of all representational systems. Saussure did not himself pursue these other branches of semiology and instead devoted his efforts to the study of language as a structured system.
Semiotics emerged as a major focus in literature and cultural studies in the s and s. In , Barthes published Mythologies, his critique of bourgeois ideology. By , he regarded semiotics as central to his program of structural anthropology. It focuses on human meaning making practices across verbal, visual, bodily, and other semiotic modalities, and their co-deployment. As Thibault argues, the basic premise is that meanings are made by construing semiotic relations among patterned meaning relations, social practices, and the physical-material processes which social practices organize and entrain in social semiosis.
In social semiotics, the basic logic is that of contextualization. No semiotic form, material entity or event, text, or action has meaning in and of itself. The meanings are made in and through the social meaning-making practices which construct semiotic relations among material processes and social actions.
All communities have regular and repeatable patterns of meaning-making. Yet another important development in semiotics is biosemiotics. Sebeok coined the term zoosemiotics to describe the study of animal behavior in According to biosemiotics, all processes occurring in nature at whatever level, from the single cell to the ecosystem, can be analyzed in terms of sign-processes. The semiosphere contains a variety of semiotic niches which are occupied by different populations depending upon their biological characteristics.
From this perspective, the evolution of life is associated with the development of increasingly sophisticated means for surviving in the semiosphere. Margaret Conkey , John Fritz , and Dorothy Washburn revived structuralism in the context of their engagement with systems theory and information exchange models. This form of structuralism, however, bore only a loose relationship with linguistics.
The conference was, therefore, a series of trial explorations of theories of practice, structuration theory, semiotics, gender, and ideology. Two contributions explicitly raised aspects of semiotics. Daniel Miller , drew on semiotics to offer a critique of structuralism and functionalism. This, therefore, invalidates the use of functionalism.
He then calls for an approach to categorization that links langue and parole in order to provide a realist explanation of the past. Alison Wylie discussed semiotics in the context of evaluating the linguistic model. That is to say, there is greater ambiguity involved in interpreting material culture meanings than there is in interpreting linguistic ones. For her, the linguistic analogy holds primarily at the level of the encoding process and meanings and a mediating competence may govern the structuring of material culture.
She concluded on a cautious note observing that additional work is needed to develop methodological procedures that address cognitive, semiological, and symbolic aspects of material culture. Although Peter Ucko xiv observed that many of the contributors regarded semiotics as the most important technique for decoding the rules and grammars of material culture expression, only a few explicitly addressed semiotic issues by name. Tilley, a for example, reviewed structuralism and poststructuralism in terms of the move from language to text.
Ana Maria Llamazares provided a semiotic approach for the interpretation of rock art. Her premise is that rock art is structured as a communication system and that the individuals that produce it are expressing themselves through preexisting structures that are part of the communities to which they belong. The roundtable was held from October 6—10, and 20 French and Anglo-American scholars participated. The topics covered included semiotic, symbolic, structural, and cognitive approaches, the philosophy of interpretation, and computer applications.
These papers were subsequently published in Representations in Archaeology Gardin and Peebles a. Several of the papers address semiotic issues directly. Jean Molino , a semiotician, interpreted archaeological practices in terms of three complementary modalities. The third is the poetic dimension where meaning is produced as the archaeological traces are linked to human activities. Michael Herzfeld examined the constraints on archaeological inference. He suggests that interpretation is predicated on typological relationships based upon iconicity, or selective resemblance and spatial forms of indexicality that can be translated into temporal sequences.
He then recommends that archaeology develop models that allow the archaeological record to be read through plausible indexical and iconic relations and accept that symbolic meanings may be inaccessible. Logicism is associated with the science of logic as devised by Charles Morris and Peirce. Hermeneutics focuses upon the actor as subject, the role of the interpretive community, and the generation of multiple perspectives.
For Gardin , the value of the semiotic perspective is twofold — it offers a kind of unity to the discipline and it allows for new understandings of the progress of archaeology. The conference generated considerable debate and some of the tensions are indicated by the fact that it resulted in two separate publications Baker and Thomas ; Bapty and Yates a. Sarah Taylor in Baker et al.
Several authors took critical stances on interpretation and indeed some question the very possibility of archaeology. However, he proposed that the past has a relative autonomy that requires that we retheorize past and present, silence and voice, self and other using psychoanalytic perspectives on the unconscious and conscious.
Maley has argued that archaeology needs to embrace deconstruction even at the risk of undermining its most cherished assumptions about representation and culture. He then suggests that archaeology needs to take seriously issues of emotion, experience, creativity, and imagination. Among the topics discussed was the applicability of the text idea for archaeology. Is text best conceived as a metaphor or an analogy? Criado critiqued the text metaphor in favor of a visual one characterized by strategies to inhibit, hide, exhibit, and monumentalize. Parker Pearson discussed the durability of material culture compared to text and the risks in fetishizing material objects and inappropriately attributing meaning to them.
Introduction 13 Thomas accepted the text metaphor but advocated an approach that examines how things are incorporated into personal biographies and group myths in the production of identity. Ian Hodder and Jean-Claude Gardin were the discussants. The session focused on exploring semiotics as a means of moving the debate over meaning forward and evaluating some of the ways in which material signs, such as objects, architecture, and landscape, are different from linguistic signs.
Two of the symposium papers have now been published. We also propose that it has the potential to contribute to the current semiotic discourse on cultural pragmatics. This is because material culture is tightly interwoven with language, and shares some of its semiotic properties. He suggests that the Inka constructed Cuzco, their capital city, as a physical representation of their worldview. The Inka then replicated this city at strategic locations throughout their empire, thus expanding their control by making multiple Cuzcos. He suggests that one of the principle roles of these sites was to serve as the settings for a calendar of ritual ceremonies and spectacles that referenced certain repeated material attributes of these sites and were performed by and for an audience of the Inka.
He also suggests that these Cuzco replicas were strategically placed in areas of war and rebellion where the utilization of ritual performance to maintain, reinforce, and manipulate Inka ideology and identity was a critical element of imperial strategy as the polity expanded from a single valley in highland modern Peru to encompass an empire extending from Ecuador to Chile. This brief review of archaeology and semiotics highlights several key points. While archaeology has engaged with both Saussurian and Peircian versions, until 14 Archaeological Semiotics recently its most sustained focus has been on structuralism and its subsequent poststructuralist critiques.
This has led to explorations of text, writing the past in the present, and rhetorical tropes and has even generated critiques which have questioned the very possibility of doing archaeology. As important as these approaches are, they have not adequately addressed the semiotic processes by which things come to mean what they do.
They have not examined the multiple modes of sign relations enabling semiotic practices. Theorizing Material Culture One of the most exciting developments in contemporary anthropology is the revival of interest in material culture studies. Miller, along with Tilley and Victor Buchli, teaches at the University College, London, perhaps the leading center for material culture studies today.
Buchli ; Miller UCL is also home to a new interdisciplinary Journal of Material Culture focusing on the role of artifacts in the construction of social identities and the production of culture. This is the view that in making things people make themselves in the process. Miller proposes that more than self-alienation, praxis understood as material strategies based upon objective conditions is central. The key issue is the Introduction 15 process of alienation by which goods become transmuted through consumption into desires.
A second approach is materialization. Elizabeth DeMarrais et al. They suggest it is related to the production, control, and manipulation of highly visible, elaborate symbols and icons, events and monumental architecture. DeMarrais has recently sought to extend the discussion beyond elite strategies suggesting that the materialization of ideology is part of a broader process — the materialization of culture. She draws attention to the idea of sedimentation whereby people make use of local knowledge to solve various problems. The social history approach refers to whole classes of things that may shift in meaning over the long term.
According to Appadurai b these two forms of object identity are interrelated since the social history of things constrains the cultural biographies of things. Most research has focused on commodity exchange within the cultural biography approach. Charles Orser has used this approach in his study of slave material culture in plantation contexts.
Here things have agency, not through consciousness, but by virtue of the effects they have on people. All three of these approaches share a set of common problems. DeMarrais argues just the opposite, but fails to provide an account of how the materialization process works. The materiality of things is overdetermined and this allows things to mediate indexically social processes.
Organization of the Book This book is organized into three parts and these are best read in sequence to gain the greatest appreciation for the potentials of archaeological semiotics. Part I provides a general overview of the two main intellectual trajectories in modern semiotics and their impact on anthropology.
I introduce Ferdinand de Saussure and the linguistic tradition in Chapter 2. Here I pay special attention to the dyadic concept of the sign, the principles of arbitrariness and linearity, and the ideas of value and meaning. I then turn to a consideration of the relation of structuralism to structural, symbolic, and cognitive anthropologies. I introduce his view of synechism and the pragmatic maxim which underlies his distinctive view of science. I also present the doctrine of categories, the triadic sign relations, and the ten sign typologies.
Here I discuss such topics as deitics, referential and nonreferential indexes, reported speech, linguistic ideology, social identity, and material meanings. Pragmatic anthropology provides an essential bridge between philosophy, linguistics, and archaeology. Part II is a consideration of the three roots of a semiotic archaeology — structuralism, poststructuralism, and cognitive science.
In Chapter 5, I review the history of processual archaeology with special attention given to its engagement with structuralism.
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I then discuss several key issues such as rules and codes, information exchange, and structural Marxism. In Chapter 6, I examine the relationships of poststructuralism and postprocessual archaeologies. I then discuss the shift from structuralism to practice theory, the idea of reading material culture, the material culture as text model, and the material metaphor approach. In Chapter 7, I provide a brief history of the relationships of cognitive science and cognitive archaeology.
I review the two main approaches that can be broadly characterized as evolutionary and processual studies. This section demonstrates that semiotics is not limited to Introduction 17 postprocessual archaeology. Indeed, it is implicated in all theoretical approaches from processual and behavioral to cognitive and hermeneutic. Part III is devoted to demonstrating the value of a Peircian semiotics to archaeology using two historical case studies. Brook Farm was the site of the famous utopian experiment made popular by Nathanial Hawthorne in his novel the Blithedale Romance.
My concern is to identify how architecture and the built environment mediated the different philosophies of Transcendentalism and Fourierism. The second case study, in Chapter 9, is a consideration of how Pueblo Indian people reconstituted their world following the Pueblo Revolt of Here I pay special attention to the semiotic deployment of rhetoric, settlement, architectural form, and pottery design as material practices that collectively enabled the Pueblo cultural revitalization movement.
Throughout the book, I have made liberal use of case studies. This can be seen as a form of pragmatism because if theories cannot be shown to have an effect on the interpretation of actual data then they are indeed of limited value. I have also emphasized certain studies to highlight the numerous connections between the various chapters.
At the end of this book, I hope the reader will have developed some familiarity with a series of questions about the interrelationships between semiotics and archaeology. What is modern semiotics and what are its historical roots in linguistics and philosophy? What are the relationships of semiotics to processual and postprocessual archaeologies? What are the relationships of semiotics to the recent moves toward a cognitive archaeology? Is the linguistic model an appropriate model for the study of non-linguistic objects e. Is it possible or desirable to construct a comprehensive or universal theory of material culture meanings?
The exploration of these questions constitutes the domain of archaeological semiosis and forms the building blocks of a pragmatic archaeology. It would be part of a social psychology and consequently of general psychology. I shall call it semiology. Ferdinand de Saussure , his emphasis Ferdinand de Saussure is widely regarded as the father of modern linguistics and contemporary semiotics. Prior to his work, the study of Indo-European linguistics was dominated by a historical approach involving the construction of comparative grammars Holdcroft This method consisted of explaining one language by reference to a related language and interpreting the forms of one in terms of the forms of the other.
There was a general assumption of regular and continuous change. August Schleicher , for example, held that languages were natural organisms and that they evolved through developmental stages much like the evolution of plant species. He conceived of the new science of semiology as related to social psychology and devoted to the investigation of the general principles of signs. Saussure has an enormous legacy that has transformed the humanities and social sciences. Because so many of these scholars began their careers as structuralists or, at least, as scholars sympathetic to structuralism, these criticisms have carried particular force.
Although structuralism no longer exists in its original form, it continues to be relevant today by virtue of its critique, commonly called poststructuralism. Ferdinand de Saussure Ferdinand de Saussure Figure 2. Saussure was the middle of three brothers, all of whom were interested in language. He quickly found, after two semesters of chemistry, that his passion lay in comparative linguistics. In his early teens, he had been inspired by his neighbor and family friend Adolphe Pictet.
Pictet was the author of two volumes on the origins of the IndoEuropeans in which he used characteristics of the Indo-European language to reconstruct features of material culture and social organization. Saussure and His Legacy 23 Figure 2. At this time, the Leipzig program, under the direction of Georg Curtius, was the leading program in comparative linguistics.
They challenged the popular idea of language developing on its own accord and instead regarded it as the product of a linguistic community. Although he certainly accepted some of their views, Saussure did not consider himself a neogrammarian. In particular, he was skeptical of the emphasis they placed on analogy in understanding language evolution, favoring the idea that it is only one aspect of interpretation.
Saussure chose a more restricted topic for his doctoral thesis, the genitive case in Sanskrit. In this work, he demonstrated the value of a synchronic and comparative approach. He completed his thesis in Here he found the climate much more congenial than the competitive atmosphere of Leipzig. He quickly developed a devoted student following and his professional reputation grew. In the same year, Saussure accepted a professorship in the history and comparative study of Indo-European languages at the University of Geneva.
He seems to have taken the position in part out of frustration with the French academic system. One of the requirements for his promotion was to become a French citizen. At Geneva, Saussure taught Sanskrit and comparative grammar and was promoted to a professorship in In , on the retirement of a colleague, the university asked him to take over responsibility for teaching a course on general linguistics.
He agreed and taught a set of three lectures held in alternate years in , —09, and — Although Saussure had a successful academic career, his fame was achieved posthumously with the publication of Cours in Ironically, he did not write this book, rather it was edited by Charles Bally and Albert Sechehaye from notes taken by his students Saussure It seems likely that some of the persistent problems of interpretation stem from this complexity.
There are two main English translations of the Cours. The second was translated by Roy Harris and published in Saussure Tullio de Maurio published an annotated version in Saussure Various additional Saussure materials have Saussure and His Legacy 25 emerged over the years and are held by the Bibliotheque Publique et Universitaire de Geneva.
It exists in a realm that is beyond the ability of any one individual to effect change. This is what he calls the language system. The second part of linguistics is speech, which is an individual phenomenon. It is the aggregate of what people say and includes both word choices and acts of phonation. This is the psychological— physical process of articulation. These two components of language are closely interrelated with each presupposing the other. Indeed, as Saussure noted, language is both the instrument and product of speech.
First, it seeks to describe and trace the history of all known languages, which involves documenting the history of language families and reconstructing their mother languages. Finally, linguistics attempts to establish itself as a science. Saussure observed close connections between linguistics and other sciences and noted that the boundaries between them are not always easy to draw.
Among these are anthropology, ethnography, and prehistory, all of which use linguistic data. He speculated that linguistics should have relationships with sociology and especially social psychology. There is an established relationship with physiology, although this is unidirectional. This is because physiology fully accounts for the mechanics of sound production without the aid of linguistics. Each word, in turn, consists of a group of letters and is commonly regarded as expressing a unique meaning.
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Saussure countered this position arguing that the word is not composed only of written letters. Rather, it consists of sounds that are spoken. Letters are, therefore, secondary signs of sounds. Moreover, these sounds are not determinative of meaning, although they may indicate dialectical differences. They are simply the physical manifestations of a cognitive image or sound pattern.
This implies that language is a structured system of differences. Nomenclaturism also assumes that meanings preexist language. They have an ontological existence, as it were, and it is only through language that we discover them. Cultural variation in languages is due to different cultures identifying these meanings and encoding them with distinctive sound patterns. On this view, language is a device for naming and classifying the pre-given world into natural kinds. He argued that meaning is created in the process of the production of the sign itself.
This characteristic means that language is culturally constructed. Nomenclaturism also assumed an invariant meaning for words. Saussure critiqued this view on the grounds that the same word can designate different things. This is true synchronically as well as diachronically. By ignoring the effect of time, nomenclaturism failed to appreciate that not only can the words used to express a thing or idea change over time, but so too can the ideas they express change over time.
If nomenclaturism were correct and words were merely labels for independently existing things, then only words should change. This property demonstrates that language is a historical process. The language system Saussure argues that language has a special character — it has a contemporary social existence and it is the product of a historical trajectory.
For every society, language is always an inheritance from the past.
Each linguistic state is thus the product of historical factors and these factors tend to exert a conservative force and insulate the linguistic sign from arbitrary change. Saussure examines language in terms of a hierarchy of binary oppositions. These included internal and external elements of language, langue and parole, synchronic and diachronic aspects Figure 2.
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External linguistics consists of all those relations that stand outside the language system. It addresses the connections between language and political history as in colonialism when a dominant group imposes its language upon a subordinant one. It includes relationships with social institutions such as the church, schools etc. Internal linguistics refers to the language system complete with its own rules and principles of grammar. Langue refers to linguistic structure. It is language minus speech and consists of the set of linguistic habits that allow a speaker to communicate.
It is the domain of articulation which accounts for the division of speech into syllables, or to the division of signs into meaningful units. Parole refers to speech understood as the social realization of language by a member of the linguistic community. It is an individual act and thus subject to considerable variability in expression. Saussure adopts this distinction to identify the social from the individual and the essential from the accidental.
The synchronic component consists of the fundamental principle of any idiosynchronic language Saussure — This refers to the system as it exists at a particular moment in time, a linguistic state. Synchronic analysis thus focuses on the logical and psychological relationships between coexisting elements within the same system as perceived by a language user.
It encompasses the study of the sign as well as general grammar and is the domain of general linguistics. The diachronic component is the relationship that holds between successive terms substituted for one another over time Saussure It describes a phase of linguistic evolution. These changes are typically not perceived by a language user. Diachronic analysis requires two methods of analysis — a prospective study that follows the course of 28 Signs of Meaning Signified Signifier Figure 2.
It is thus the domain of historical linguistics. For Saussure , synchronic analysis takes precedence over the diachronic since it is the only reality for the community of language users. The sign and its principles The sign is the fundamental unit of linguistic analysis. The concept is not a thing in the world, but rather a mental image of that thing.
The concept and sound pattern are thus both mental entities and independent of any external object. The arrows emphasize that the two elements of the sign relation are mutually determined and symmetrical. That is, from one, it is possible to predict the other. This view of the sign relation differs from the popular notion in which the sign is taken to refer to the sound pattern alone. This refers to words — ouaoua French or wauwau German — that sound like what they mean, in this case the barking of a dog.
The second seeming exception is the case of exclamations. These are words popularly thought to be spontaneous expressions. He gives as an example aie! French which corresponds to au! Similarly, he suggests exclamations such as diable!