Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Ethnoarchaeology: Approaches to Fieldwork

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_1497


Field methods of ethnoarchaeology are based on those of ethnography, but because of the type of information that is sought, there are some record types that are more specific to archaeology. In other words, fieldwork in ethnoarchaeology is also based on participant observation in living societies, with an attitude of minimal interference in the community under study and a clear research design. However, little has been written and reflected on ethnoarchaeological fieldwork (for exceptions see David & Kramer 2001: 63-90), and in general it is not clearly specified in the reports. There are three defining elements of ethnoarchaeology that have implications in their field methods: the study of a living culture, with reference to the material derivatives of human behavior, and (when it is in traditional society) the postcolonial context.

Key Issues/Current Debates/Future Directions/Examples

The ethnoarchaeological fieldwork has some peculiarities. First, the overall goals are...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Binford, L. 1978. Nunamiut ethnoarchaeology. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bird, D.W., R. Bliege Bird & B.F. Codding. 2009. In pursuit of mobile prey: Martu hunting strategies and archaeofaunal interpretation. American Antiquity 74: 3-29.Google Scholar
  3. David, N. & C. Kramer. 2001. Ethnoarchaeology in action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. David, N., A. Sterner & K.B.Gauva. 1988. Why pots are decorated. Current Anthropology 29: 365-89.Google Scholar
  5. DeBoer, W. 1974. Ceramic longevity and archaeological interpretation: an example of the Upper Ucayali, Peru. American Antiquity 39: 335-43.Google Scholar
  6. Fewster, F. 2001. The responsabilities of ethnoarchaeologists, in M. Pluciennik (ed.) The responsibilities of archaeologists: archaeology and ethics (British Archaeological Reports International series 981): 65–73. Oxford: Archaeopress.Google Scholar
  7. Gonzalez Ruibal, A. 2009. De la etnoarqueología a la arqueología del presente, in Mundos Tribales. Una visión etnoarqueológica: 16-27. Madrid.Google Scholar
  8. Gosselain, O. 2000. Materializing identities. An African perspective. Journal of Archaeological Methods and Theory 7: 187-218.Google Scholar
  9. Greaves, R. 2006. Use and residential landscape. Foragers organization, in F. Sellers, R. Greaves & P.-L. Yu (ed.) Archaeology and ethnoarchaeology of mobility: 127-52. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.Google Scholar
  10. Hodder, I. 1982. The present past: an introduction to anthropology for archaeologists. London: Batsford.Google Scholar
  11. Kelly, R., L. Poyer & B. Ticker. 2006. Mobility and houses in southwestern Madagascar. Ethnoarchaeology among the Mikea and their neighbors, in F. Sellers, R. Greaves & P.-L. Yu (ed.) Archaeology and ethnoarchaeology of mobility: 75-107. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.Google Scholar
  12. Kramer, C. 1982. Village ethnoarchaeology: rural Iran in archaeological perspective. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  13. Lupo, K. & J. O'Connell. 2002. Cut and tooth mark distribution on large animal bones: ethnoarchaeological data from the Hadza and their implications for current ideas about early human carnivory. Journal of Archaeological Science 29: 85109.Google Scholar
  14. O'Connell, J. 1987. Alyawara site structure and its archaeological implications. American Antiquity 52: 74-108.Google Scholar
  15. Politis, G. 2007. Nukak. ethnoarchaeology of an Amazonian people (University College London Institute of Archaeology Publications). Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.Google Scholar
  16. Roux, V. 2007. Ethnoarchaeology: a non-historical science of reference necessary for interpreting the past. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 14(2): 153-78.Google Scholar
  17. Yellen, J.E. 1977. Archaeological approaches to the present. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Facultad de Ciencias SocialesCONICET-INCUAPA UNICENBuenos AiresArgentina