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W. C. McKern and the Midwestern Taxonomic Method, W. C. McKern and the Midwestern Taxonomic Method, 0817312218, 0-8173-1221-8, 978-0-8173-1221-3, 9780817312213, , , W. C. McKern and the Midwestern Taxonomic Method, 0817312226, 0-8173-1222-6, 978-0-8173-1222-0, 9780817312220, , , W. C. McKern and the Midwestern Taxonomic Method, 0817382038, 0-8173-8203-8, 978-0-8173-8203-2, 9780817382032,

W. C. McKern and the Midwestern Taxonomic Method
R. Lee Lyman and Michael J. O'Brien

Hardcover
2002. 336 pp.
978-0-8173-1221-3
Price:  $69.95 s
Quality Paper
2002. 336 pp.
978-0-8173-1222-0
Price:  $39.95 s
E Book
2008. 320 pp.
978-0-8173-8203-2
Price:  $39.95 d

This book explains the deep influence of biological methods and theories on the practice of Americanist archaeology by exploring W. C. McKern's use of Linnaean taxonomy as the model for development of a pottery classification system.

By the early 20th century, North American archaeologists had found evidence of a plethora of prehistoric cultures displaying disparate geographic and chronological distributions. But there were no standards or algorithms for specifying when a culture was distinct or identical to another in a nearby or distant region.

Will Carleton McKern of the Milwaukee Public Museum addressed this fundamental problem of cultural classification beginning in 1929. He modeled his solution—known as the Midwestern Taxonomic Method—on the Linnaean biological taxonomy because he wanted the ability to draw historical and cultural "relationships" among cultures. McKern was assisted during development of the method by Carl E. Guthe, Thorne Deuel, James B. Griffin, and William Ritchie.

This book studies the 1930s correspondence between McKern and his contemporaries as they hashed out the method's nuances. It compares the several different versions of the method and examines the Linnaean biological taxonomy as it was understood and used at the time McKern adapted it to archaeological problems. Finally, this volume reveals how and why the method failed to provide the analytical solution envisioned by McKern and his colleagues and how it influenced the later development of Americanist archaeology.


R. Lee Lyman is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Missouri—Columbia and coeditor of Setting the Agenda for American Archaeology. Michael J. O'Brien is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Missouri—Columbia and coeditor of Changing Perspectives on the Archaeology of the Central Mississippi Valley.

 


"An excellent account of the little-known history of the Midwestern Taxonomic, or McKern, System. This is the third book in a series by O'Brien and Lyman presenting documentation of aspects critical to the early history of Americanist archaeology and will be of great interest to students in the field."
—Charles H. McNutt, University of Memphis

"(This) is the third in a series of books by Lyman and O'Brien that closely reexamine the contributions of the culture history paradigm to Americanist archaeology. . . . A well-researched, well-written work that covers an under-documented period in American archaeology."
Southeastern Archaeology

Also of Interest

Setting the Agenda for American Archaeology
Edited and with an introduction by Michael J. O'Brien and R. Lee Lyman


Antiquities of the Southern Indians, Particularly
Charles C. Jones, edited and with an introduction by Frank T. Schnell


Measuring the Flow of Time
James A. Ford, edited by R. Lee Lyman and Michael J. O'Brien


Method and Theory in American Archaeology
by Gordon Willey, Philip Phillips
Edited by R. Lee Lyman, Michael J. O'Brien