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An archaeology of innovationApproaching social and technological change in human society$
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Catherine J. Frieman

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781526132642

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.7765/9781526132659

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Messy narratives/flexible methodologies

Messy narratives/flexible methodologies

(p.32) 2 Messy narratives/flexible methodologies
An archaeology of innovation

Catherine J. Frieman

Manchester University Press

This chapter explores in greater depth the interpretative tools available to archaeologists interested in innovation and technological change. It begins with an extended discussion of the research history of early-agriculture studies and the various narratives and interpretative frameworks that have developed in this thriving field. Evolutionary approaches to innovation are discussed and found to be limited in their applicability because of their inability to grapple with the complexities of social relations and socially constructed technologies. Instead, the chapter argues that the most appropriate approach to the study of innovation, particularly when examining highly fragmented archaeological data, is through the application of social models that emphasize connections between persons and things, a relational approach foregrounding ideas of social construction, negotiation, and historic trajectories. This approach allows us to bring together complementary data and to work at multiple temporal and spatial scales to tell thick histories of innovation and resistance.

Keywords:   evolutionary archaeology, dual inheritance theory, social construction of technology, fragmentation, relational models, early agriculture, Fertile Crescent, Neolithic revolution, agricultural mosaics

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