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Archaeologists do not discover the past but take the fragmentary remains which they recover and make something of them. Archaeology is a process of detection and supposition. However, the interpretations of archaeologists differ and change over time. They depend upon the amount of evidence available, the ideas and preconceptions of the archaeologist and their interests and aims. This work is a guide to the discipline of classical archaeology and its objects. It assesses archaeology as a means of reconstructing ancient Greek society using the latest approaches of social archaeology. In addition, it outlines the history of the discipline and discusses why Classical Greece continues to fascinate us and why it has had such an impact on European civilization and identity.
Michael Shanks is a lecturer in archaeology at the University of Wales, Lampeter.