Tools of the Trade: Methods, Techniques, and Innovative Approaches in Archaeology.


344 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-1-55238-249-3
DDC 930.1028




Edited by Jayne Wilkins and Kirsten Anderson
Reviewed by Trish Chatterley


The seventeen chapters in this monograph are based on presentations given by researchers, professors, and students at the 2005 Chacmool Conference held in Calgary, Alberta. Many of the contributors are either Canadian, or are working or studying at Canadian institutions. The book is intended for practitioners and students of archaeology, not the general public, so knowledge of archaeological methodology is definitely required. The general theme allows for a wide range of tools, geographic regions, and time periods to be explored. Topics include the origins of tool use, experimental results from replication and testing of atlatls and stone tools, spatial analyses, as well as the origins and applications of more technologically advanced methods such as petrography, stable isotope analysis, and Geographic Information Systems. This represents a large collection of varied, interesting topics that a reader might not otherwise encounter.

It is not a book designed to be read cover to cover — the introduction and the abstracts preceding each paper provide ample background for the reader to select essays of interest, and the index also provides pathways to specific concepts. Reports range from 12 to 20 pages; each cites references at the end.

The papers vary in quality of research and writing. A couple provide lengthy historical overviews or descriptions of methods, with very few pages devoted to the author’s own results or theories, while others consist almost exclusively of experimental results. Along these lines, some authors are better at presenting their ideas clearly and concisely than others. Several of the pictures/diagrams included to enhance understanding of the text would have been more accessible if coloured, particularly those where the reader is asked to view items marked by blue dotted lines. Additionally, the textual descriptions and figure numbers presented within the text did not always correlate with the descriptions within the figure captions.

As a whole, the book provides a nice sampling of research topics and will therefore be of interest to many individuals involved in the field of archaeology.


“Tools of the Trade: Methods, Techniques, and Innovative Approaches in Archaeology.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024,