Difficult Choices: HBE and The Legacy of the New Archaeology

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 17 March, 2016 - 15:30
, Lisa - University of North Texas

Archaeological research using human behavioral ecology (HBE) models to understand subsistence change has significantly increased over the past decade both in number and scope. However, it faces challenges from outside and within. The former stems from a long-standing criticism that HBE models are too environmentally deterministic and do not accommodate humans as unique, active participants in their destiny.  The latter is from HBE practitioners who look to expand its application beyond food acquisition and production.  In this paper, I examine why reaching common ground between traditional HBE approaches and these critical perspectives is often difficult. The dilemma is linked to the New Archaeology’s dual goals of being anthropological and scientific. Meeting both goals is often not possible.  As a result, researchers often must prioritize one goal over the other, resulting in the development of debates with two “camps” in both HBE research and the broader archaeological literature.