Since the 1960s, archaeologists have become increasingly concerned with how material evidence can be interpreted, and what it can genuinely reveal about the past. They are constantly faced with perplexing questions about their work: what is the meaning of an artefact? did prehistoric people think like we do? is the past just something constructed in the present? This work presents 16 articles of theoretical interest; provides an intellectual history of different approaches to archaeology which contextualizes the complex traditions of cognitive archaeology and post-processualism on which it focuses; organizes theories of archaeology, the meanings of things, the pre-historic mind and cognition, gender, ideology and social theory; and emphasizes research from the "New World", making archaeological theory especially relevant to students in North America.
David S. Whitley is the US representative of ICOMOS and lectures at UCLA. He is an internationally acclaimned expert on rock art, on which he has published widely.