Fall 2016 Reading List

Here are five must-read picks that I recommend for early career archaeologists, or really anyone interested in the following books. I’ll try to pump out five more for Winter 2016/2017. Suggestions and comments are very welcome, so lay ’em on me in the comments!


Daniel Quinn, Ishmael (1995)

I read this fiction novel in one of my first anthropology courses and it blew my mind and was a big motivator to keep me pursuing anthropology courses. Now in hindsight, over a decade later, I’ve reread it several times and it’s not as earth-shattering to me anymore. The plot device of a telepathic gorilla speaking to a young man who’s disillusioned with mainstream Western society is an effective vehicle for delivering introductory concepts in the discipline of anthropology. This is a great starting point, and a good benchmark to return to for reiterating theoretical concepts. The prose is easy to read and it’s engaging enough from start to finish, without ever getting too heady or self-indulgent.

Chris Webster, Field Archaeologist’s Survival Guide: Getting a Job and Working in Cultural Resource Management (2014)

I wish I’d read this before I had even graduated from undergrad. At the time, I had no clue what it meant to work in cultural resource management (CRM). This is a short and simple, easy to read introduction to the field. Totally a must-read for beginners.

William A. White, Small Archaeology Project Management: How to Run Cultural Resource Management Projects Without Busting Your Budget (2013)

Like Webster’s book mentioned above, this is also a must-read for CRMers. Most of this book has great lessons for early career archaeologists, but it’s geared more towards mid-career CRMers (like project managers with enough autonomy in their firms to actually work with budgets and managing workflow). If you want to take your leadership and skills to the next level, this is the book for you. The casual, conversational tone is a breeze to get through too. I read it in one sitting, and I’m a fairly slow reader.

William Rathje and Cullen Murphy, Rubbish! The Archaeology of Garbage (2001)

The late Bill Rathje was a pioneer in applying archaeological method and theory to modern garbage, and that work was influential in a lot of ways. This book is a fascinating and alarming look at modern resource use and waste management. The implications for studying human resource use are huge. This book is sometimes dry, sometimes heady, but overall a fantastic and light read that’ll get you thinking.

Bill Rathje – Garbologist from Michael Shanks on Vimeo.


Joyce Rockwood Hudson, Appalachee (2012)

This historical fiction takes a blend of ethnohistoric accounts from the Spanish Mission Period in Florida, and archaeological evidence to weave a tale of conflicts between cultures. Native American groups are at war with each other, and tribes an families are ripping themselves apart under the pressures of Spanish conquest, British traders, and Creek slavers. Having grown up and worked in the Southeastern United States, this novel gave a whole new depth to the history and the landscape I’d seen throughout my childhood, and made archaeology come alive in a new way for me.

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