• Michael A. Jochim
Part of the Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology book series (IDCA)


Prehistoric hunting and gathering peoples pose unique problems to archaeologists. Many modern groups such as the Pygmies, Australian Aborigines, and !Kung San share characteristics of low population density, high mobility, and scant material culture. For such people we have to try to reconstruct past life- ways from the remains of a few individuals who move around a lot and leave little behind as they go. If ever archaeology is to be characterized as the study of just “stones and bones”—no temples, no elaborate tombs, rarely even house floors—it is the archaeology of hunters and gatherers. Added to this material poverty are other problems: the exposed nature of most campsites favors destruction even of bones; the frequent reoccupation of attractive camping spots results in a mixing of materials from different occupations; and the slow change through time in styles of material objects discourages the construction of a detailed chronology, forcing us often to lump together sites separated by hundreds of years as “contemporary.”


Archaeological Record Stone Tool Permanent House Ethnographic Record Mesolithic Site 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael A. Jochim
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA

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