V. Gordon Childe is probably the most widely read early archaeologist of the 20th century and one of the world's most renowned prehistorians. A thorough understanding of the evolution of Childe's theoretical perspective is crucial to an understanding of the foundations of social archaeology. For the first time, a diverse collection of Childe's writings have been brought together in one volume. These fourteen essays, from his earliest seminal work in 1935 to his reflective essay 'Retrospect' written in 1958 shortly before his death, document the progression of this dynamic thinker. Essays such as 'Archaeology and Anthropology' show the evolution of Childe's theories from a conception of the past as a trait-list conceptualization of culture to an understanding of the profound importance of social relations in transforming human history. His understanding of history evolved from a static notion into a dynamic conception that openly embraced social interaction and all that it entailed, a transformation that marked the earliest strains of social archaeology. The introduction by prominent anthropologists Thomas Patterson and Charles Orser places Childe's work in a larger context and explores Childe's ongoing value to modern readers. This volume will be of interest to archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians of social archaeology.
It provides readers with ready access to Childe's many theoretical premises and how they changed over time; it provides historical insights into the theoretical concerns of mid-20th-century archaeology; and it provides insights into the origins of many contemporary theoretical positions and archaeological tropes used both in classrooms and publications. . . All contemporary archaeologists are indebted to V. Gordon Childe, and it is appropriate that we should be reminded occasionally in publications such as this of how he helped formulate our concepts of culture, evolution, and the past.--Canadian Journal of Archaeology