Main Points

Post-Processual Archaeology got its start in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s by archaeologists, including Ian Hodder, Daniel Miller, Christopher Tilley, and Peter Ucko, then becoming more widespread in the United States in the 1980s.  Post-processual archaeologists view objects or artifacts in a subjective way, take into account the context that the artifact is found in, the other objects that may surround it, and then come to a conclusion based on that as well as taking into account human behaviors and the culture of the time period.  Post-processual archaeology was largely viewed as a critique of processual archaeology, because it does not ignore human behavior, or that cultures change over time.

            Post-processual archaeologists believe that the past should be looked at through the lens of materialism and idealism both.  The material remains that past societies left behind, as well as what remains of the ideas and ideology that they left behind, and how both of those things may have shaped their ideas about the world around them, and how they saw it. They do not deny that even historical societies had their own rules, but they also argue for the concept that humans were free agents, knew what full well what the societal rules are, but acted according to their own interests anyway. 

            There are still others that are influenced by sociological theories, and believe in free agency, but that most humans will manipulate the rules of their society instead of following them, which led to the societal rules eventually changing.  In contrast, some believe that class conflict was the cause of social change, and other post-processual archaeologists that feel human agency is not useful in looking at past societies.  Post-processualism also places great importance on the encouragement of getting groups that had been marginalized to interact with archaeology.

Key Figures

[Hodder] (Born 1948)

[Miller] (Born 1954)

[Shanks] (Born 1959)


[Ucko(July 27, 1938 – June 14, 2007)

Key Texts

=Hodder, Ian., and Hutson, Scott. 2004. Reading the Past: Current Approaches to Interpretation in Archaeology. Cambridge University Press. = =Hodder, Ian. 2012. Entangled: An Archaeology of the Relationships between Humans and Things. Wiley-Blackwell. =

Hodder, Ian. 2007. Symbolic and Structural Archaeology. Cambridge University Press.Edit

Hodder, Ian. 1992. Theory and Practice in Archaeology. Routledge.Edit

Shanks, Michael. 1991. Experiencing the Past: On the Character of Archaeology. Routledge.Edit

Shanks, Michael., and Tilley, Christopher. 1991. Social Theory and Archaeology. Polity.


Christopher Tilley - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. N.d.

<>, accessed March 11, 2015.

Daniel Miller (anthropologist) - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. N.d.

<>, accessed March 11, 2015.

Ian Hodder - Anthropology Theory Project N.d.

<>, accessed February 18, 2015.

Ian Hodder - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. N.d.

<>, accessed March 11, 2015.

Michael Shanks (archaeologist) - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. N.d.

<>, accessed March 11, 2015.

Peter Ucko - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. N.d.

<>, accessed March 11, 2015.

 Post-Processual Archaeology - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. N.d.

<>, accessed February 18, 2015.

 VanPool, Christine, and Todd VanPool. The Scientific Nature of Postprocessualism. American Antiquity, 64(1), 33-53.