An archaeology of innovation

Approaching social and technological change in human society

By Catherine J. Frieman

An archaeology of innovation


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3264-2
  • Pages: 256
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: March 2021
  • BIC Category: Archaeology, Impact of science & technology on society, History of science, History of engineering & technology, Archaeology, SCIENCE / History, TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / History, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Archaeology, Impact Of Science & Technology On Society, History Of Engineering & Technology, Humanities / Archaeology
  • Series: Social Archaeology and Material Worlds


An archaeology of innovation is the first monograph-length investigation of innovation and the innovation process from an archaeological perspective. It interrogates the idea of innovation that permeates our popular media and our political and scientific discourse, setting this against the long-term perspective that only archaeology can offer. Case studies span the entire breadth of human history, from our earliest hominin ancestors to the contemporary world. The book argues that the present narrow focus on pushing the adoption of technical innovations ignores the complex interplay of social, technological and environmental systems that underlies truly innovative societies; the inherent connections between new technologies, technologists and social structure that give them meaning and make them valuable; and the significance and value of conservative social practices that lead to the frequent rejection of innovations.


'This is a book that deserves to be widely read, and the ideas inside discussed and debated not only in archaeology but across ?elds [...] It is an invaluable contribution'.
Archaeology in Oceania, James L. Flexner


Introduction: Loomings
1 Innovation as discourse
2 Messy narratives/flexible methodologies
3 Invention as process
4 Power, influence, and adoption
5 Pass it on
6 Tradition, continuity, and resistance
7 Create/innovate
Conclusion: The widening gyre


Catherine J. Frieman is Associate Professor of European Archaeology at the School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Australian National University

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