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Re: Lewis Binford is Dead

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  • George Thomas
    It seems he was controversial and he knew it from the start. My late 60s graduate experience involved lots and lots of Binford back when nobody had begun
    Message 1 of 5 , Apr 13, 2011
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      It seems he was controversial and he knew it from the start. My late 60s graduate experience involved lots and lots of Binford back when nobody had begun referring to things "post-processual."  An old video of one of his paper presentations showed an ernest fellow who was somewhat hurried.  No hint as to whether there was a time clock on him or what, but he seemed to be a less-than-affable camper.  I attended a presentation much later -- decades (blush) -- in Austin, TX in the mid 90s, and by that time he had taken in all the life-kudos he needed, smiled a lot, and salted his comments with some unclassifiable brand of humor.  What an influence he had!
      The kind of influence that -- well, this really happened: I bought Binford and Binford (eds) "New Perspectives in Archaeology" (1968), hot off the press, and went to eat lunch.  A classmate took a look at my purchase and suggested that I had been sucked in by a passing fad.
      As in the conventional wisdom on automobiles in 1890.  Or as in, "no, no!  Don't buy any stock in that upstart Microsoft!  You'll lose your shirt!"
      G
       
      Lewis Binford is Dead
          Posted by: "Bob Muckle" bmuckle@... canadianarchaeologist
          Date: Tue Apr 12, 2011 12:16 pm ((PDT))

      In case you hadn't heard, Lewis Binford died yesterday (April 11th).

      He was controversial, and some of his stuff was tough to read, but he had many seminal publications and led the charge into processual archaeology beginning in the 1960s. He made signficant contributions to the development of archaeological method and theory in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and the early years of the 21st century.

      He was one of those larger-than-life figures, and in my view one of the two or three most influential archaeologist of the 20th century. Not just in North America, but globally.

      I wasn't really a fan of his specific work, but I am grateful for the broader intellectual changes he brought to the discipline.

      Bob









      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • frank lagana
      What I always liked about Binford s work was his use of contemporary ethnographic data to give a new perspective on the archaeological record. His book on
      Message 2 of 5 , Apr 13, 2011
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        What I always liked about Binford's work was his use of contemporary
        ethnographic data to give a new perspective on the archaeological record.
        His book on Inuit hunting is one of my favorites.

        frank


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Mark Lewine
        In my experience with archaeology in the 60s and early 70 s, people like my mentor, Olaf Prufer as well as Binford, were supreme characters and very
        Message 3 of 5 , Apr 13, 2011
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          In my experience with archaeology in the '60s and early '70's, people like my mentor, Olaf Prufer as well as Binford, were supreme characters and very difficult to deal with as mentors, professors or as anything else...they were representative examples of their generation: profane, brilliant, tough, creative, crusty archaeologist/anthropologist/scientists who worked every level from dirt to abstract theory...with gusto and extreme certainty as they argued each point as if it meant life itself. I actually spoke to Binford at his home in Texas in '96 and got his acceptance for participation in our 5 Fields (Prufer gave me his home number) but he blew us off just before the meeting! My favorite story about him was his discussion of a Neanderthal site in which he found evidence that the young men barbecued for weeks before hauling a few remnants back home...so much for provisioning theory Lovejoy...start of his theory that human survival might be based on the need to get the young men out of town every so often so the rest can have some peace.
          ----- Original Message -----
          From: George Thomas
          To: sacc-l@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 5:54 PM
          Subject: [SACC-L] Re: Lewis Binford is Dead



          It seems he was controversial and he knew it from the start. My late 60s graduate experience involved lots and lots of Binford back when nobody had begun referring to things "post-processual." An old video of one of his paper presentations showed an ernest fellow who was somewhat hurried. No hint as to whether there was a time clock on him or what, but he seemed to be a less-than-affable camper. I attended a presentation much later -- decades (blush) -- in Austin, TX in the mid 90s, and by that time he had taken in all the life-kudos he needed, smiled a lot, and salted his comments with some unclassifiable brand of humor. What an influence he had!
          The kind of influence that -- well, this really happened: I bought Binford and Binford (eds) "New Perspectives in Archaeology" (1968), hot off the press, and went to eat lunch. A classmate took a look at my purchase and suggested that I had been sucked in by a passing fad.
          As in the conventional wisdom on automobiles in 1890. Or as in, "no, no! Don't buy any stock in that upstart Microsoft! You'll lose your shirt!"
          G

          Lewis Binford is Dead
          Posted by: "Bob Muckle" bmuckle@... canadianarchaeologist
          Date: Tue Apr 12, 2011 12:16 pm ((PDT))

          In case you hadn't heard, Lewis Binford died yesterday (April 11th).

          He was controversial, and some of his stuff was tough to read, but he had many seminal publications and led the charge into processual archaeology beginning in the 1960s. He made signficant contributions to the development of archaeological method and theory in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and the early years of the 21st century.

          He was one of those larger-than-life figures, and in my view one of the two or three most influential archaeologist of the 20th century. Not just in North America, but globally.

          I wasn't really a fan of his specific work, but I am grateful for the broader intellectual changes he brought to the discipline.

          Bob

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • George Thomas
            Perhaps diplomatically challenged is an attribution that comes to mind, but there s no doubt he was brilliant. This was the message from the president of
          Message 4 of 5 , Apr 14, 2011
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            Perhaps diplomatically challenged is an attribution that comes to mind, but there's no doubt he was brilliant.
            This was the message from the president of the World Archaeological Congress.  It features a nice list of his most influential works.
            GT
             
             Begin forwarded message:








             
            Dear all,

            I am very sorry to inform you that Professor Lewis Binford, the scholar whose name evokes an entire intellectual movement within archaeology, has passed away.  His optimism and intellectual fervor have been a major influence on several generations of archaeologists. 

            Lewis Roberts Binford was born on 21 November, 1930.  He graduated from the University of North Carolina (Bachelors), and the University of Michigan (Masters and PhD). He produced over 150 publications in the last 50 years, many of which became seminal papers in archaeological theory and method. His most influential publications span more than four decades, and include: 

            1962 Archaeology as Anthropology, American Antiquity 28:217-225. 
            1968 New Perspectives in Archaeology. Co-edited with S.R. Binford, Aldine Publishing Company, Chicago.
            1978 Nunamiut Ethnoarchaeology. Academic Press, New York.
            1981 Bones: Ancient Men & Modern Myths. Academic Press, London.
            1983 In Pursuit of the Past. Thames and Hudson, London. 
            1989 Debating Archaeology. Academic Press, New York. 
            2001 Constructing Frames of Reference: an analytical method for archaeological theory building using ethnographic and environmental data sets. University of California Press, Berkeley.
            2004 Ethnographically Documented Hunter-Gatherer Peoples: A Baseline for the Study of the Past. Princeton UP, Princeton.

            Lewis Binford was a pioneer in the 'New Archaeology' movement of the 1960s.  His vision for a scientific approach to archaeology led the discipline away from the cataloguing of cultural histories to the use of scientific methods aimed at explaining cultural processes and site formation processes. Binford’s academic career was based at the University of New Mexico and subsequently at Southern Methodist University.  He was an inspiring, committed researcher and a kind and generous teacher.  Just as we were intellectually enriched by his existence, so we are intellectually poorer through his passing.  He was was one of archaeology’s great minds. 

            Lew is survived by his daughter, Martha, and his wife and co-researcher, Amber Johnson.  

            WAC will publish an obituary in the near future.

            Sincerely,

            Claire Smith
             

             
            Lewis Binford is Dead
                Posted by: "frank lagana" frank11217@... frank11217
                Date: Wed Apr 13, 2011 4:01 pm ((PDT))

            What I always liked about Binford's work was his use of contemporary
            ethnographic data to give a new perspective on the archaeological record.
            His book on Inuit hunting is one of my favorites.

            frank


            Re: Lewis Binford is Dead
                Posted by: "Mark Lewine" mlewine@... krameniwel
                Date: Wed Apr 13, 2011 8:38 pm ((PDT))

            In my experience with archaeology in the '60s and early '70's, people like my mentor, Olaf Prufer as well as Binford, were supreme characters and very difficult to deal with as mentors, professors or as anything else...they were representative examples of their generation: profane, brilliant, tough, creative, crusty archaeologist/anthropologist/scientists who worked every level from dirt to abstract theory...with gusto and extreme certainty as they argued each point as if it meant life itself. I actually spoke to Binford at his home in Texas in '96 and got his acceptance for participation in our 5 Fields (Prufer gave me his home number) but he blew us off just before the meeting! My favorite story about him was his discussion of a Neanderthal site in which he found evidence that the young men barbecued for weeks before hauling a few remnants back home...so much for provisioning theory Lovejoy...start of his theory that human survival might be based on
            the need to get the young men out of town every so often so the rest can have some peace.

             
             
              From: George Thomas
              To: sacc-l@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 5:54 PM
              Subject: [SACC-L] Re: Lewis Binford is Dead

              It seems he was controversial and he knew it from the start. My late 60s graduate experience involved lots and lots of Binford back when nobody had begun referring to things "post-processual."  An old video of one of his paper presentations showed an ernest fellow who was somewhat hurried.  No hint as to whether there was a time clock on him or what, but he seemed to be a less-than-affable camper.  I attended a presentation much later -- decades (blush) -- in Austin, TX in the mid 90s, and by that time he had taken in all the life-kudos he needed, smiled a lot, and salted his comments with some unclassifiable brand of humor.  What an influence he had!
              The kind of influence that -- well, this really happened: I bought Binford and Binford (eds) "New Perspectives in Archaeology" (1968), hot off the press, and went to eat lunch.  A classmate took a look at my purchase and suggested that I had been sucked in by a passing fad.
              As in the conventional wisdom on automobiles in 1890.  Or as in, "no, no!  Don't buy any stock in that upstart Microsoft!  You'll lose your shirt!"
              G
               
            Harry Shafer
            Message on the TXARCH-L@...
            Date: Thursday, April 14, 2011, 7:23 PM





            ... thanks for alerting me to Lew  Binford's death.  He was 79 and without a doubt the most formable archaeological theoretician in American archaeology. He spearheaded the move of New Archaeology, breaking out of the cultural-historical paradigm and pushing American archaeology toward anthropology. Personally I found his theoretical work enlightening and was influenced in many ways by it.  Applying some of his ideas made archaeology intellectual fun.  I knew Lew personally, not as well as Bob Hard, one of his students, but I visited him when he was in New Mexico, spent a little time with him when he came to TAMU to give a lecture, was a member of Patricia McAnany's graduate committee (which Lew Chaired), and read most of his major works.  He left quite a legacy of students who have gone on to become leaders in our field.  American archaeology has lost a giant, whether you agreed with his ideas or not.

            HJS
             

              Lewis Binford is Dead
                  Posted by: "Bob Muckle" bmuckle@... canadianarchaeologist
                  Date: Tue Apr 12, 2011 12:16 pm ((PDT))

              In case you hadn't heard, Lewis Binford died yesterday (April 11th).

              He was controversial, and some of his stuff was tough to read, but he had many seminal publications and led the charge into processual archaeology beginning in the 1960s. He made signficant contributions to the development of archaeological method and theory in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and the early years of the 21st century.

              He was one of those larger-than-life figures, and in my view one of the two or three most influential archaeologist of the 20th century. Not just in North America, but globally.

              I wasn't really a fan of his specific work, but I am grateful for the broader intellectual changes he brought to the discipline.

              Bob



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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