Lewis Binford

Lewis R. Binford
Born(1931-11-21)November 21, 1931
Norfolk, Virginia
DiedApril 11, 2011(2011-04-11) (aged 79)
Kirksville, Missouri
Alma materUniversity of North Carolina
University of Michigan
Known forPioneering processual archaeology
and ethnoarchaeology
Significant contributions to
study of the Paleolithic
Scientific career
FieldsArchaeology, Anthropology
InstitutionsUniversity of Chicago
University of New Mexico
Southern Methodist University
InfluencesLeslie White
InfluencedDavid Clarke, Colin Renfrew

Lewis Roberts Binford (November 21, 1931 – April 11, 2011) was an American archaeologist known for his influential work in archaeological theory, ethnoarchaeology and the Paleolithic period. He is widely considered among the most influential archaeologists of the later 20th century, and is credited with fundamentally changing the field with the introduction of processual archaeology (or the "New Archaeology") in the 1960s.[1][2] Binford's influence was controversial, however, and most theoretical work in archaeology in the late 1980s and 1990s was explicitly construed as either a reaction to or in support of the processual paradigm.[3] Recent appraisals have judged that his approach owed more to prior work in the 1940s and 50s than suggested by Binford's strong criticism of his predecessors.[4]

Early life and education

Binford was born in Norfolk, Virginia on November 21, 1931. As a child he was interested in animals, and after finishing high school studied wildlife biology at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Previously a mediocre student, Binford excelled in college and considered pursuing an academic career in biology until he was put off the idea when a professor suggested that there were "still a few species of blind cave salamanders" that he could be the first to study.[5] It was during his time in the military that Binford first became interested in anthropology and archaeology. After graduating he was drafted as an interpreter and assigned to a group of anthropologists tasked with resettling people on the Pacific islands occupied by the United States during World War II. He also became involved with the recovery of archaeological material from tombs on Okinawa that were to be removed to make way for a military base. Though he had no training in archaeology, Binford found himself excavating and identifying these artifacts, which were then used to restock the destroyed museum in Shuri.[6]

After leaving the military Binford went to study anthropology at the University of North Carolina (UNC). The military subsidy he received was not enough to fund his study completely, so Binford used the skills in construction he learned from his father (a carpenter) to start a modest contracting business. He gained a second BA at UNC and then in 1957 transferred to the University of Michigan to complete a combined MA and PhD. His thesis was the interaction between Native Americans and the first English colonists in Virginia, a subject he became interested in while still at UNC.[7]

Other Languages
Cymraeg: Lewis Binford
Deutsch: Lewis Binford
español: Lewis Binford
français: Lewis Binford
italiano: Lewis Binford
Nederlands: Lewis Binford
português: Lewis Binford
svenska: Lewis Binford