Randall McGuire and Reinhard Bernbeck

in The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Ritual and Religion

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199232444
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology


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  • Historical Archaeology



Archaeologists have rarely taken up the complex concept of ideology. When discussing past ideologies, they mainly use the term as a substitute for ‘world view’, ‘religion’, or ‘political doctrine’. However, ‘ideology’ is not a coherent sphere of collective thought that can be investigated like a landscape or group of material objects. Instead, it refers to a complex set of relations between people and their surroundings that is centred on power differentials. Another aspect is the ideological nature of archaeological thought itself. When we speak of archaeological theories, we treat ideologies of interpretation in a fashion similar to that of past worldviews. This article begins with a brief history of the concept of ideology. It then covers the archaeological discourse on ideology, and ideology and archaeology at the turn of the twenty-first century.

Keywords: archaeology; past ideologies; world view; religion; political doctrine; archaeological discourse

Article.  6324 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Historical Archaeology

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