chapter  7
Pages 12

In Chapter 1, I began in the world in which we live, a world in which neo-liberal economics and globalization have driven the more marked development of social and economic inequalities within and between the First and Third Worlds. Politics and economics now operate at the global scale. This situation is neither inevitable nor natural, but a product of the past, whether over the last three decades or the last two million years of human history. Without the past we cannot understand the present. Within the social and historical sciences, this past has been studied since the eighteenth century through the use of the concept of social evolution, of change from simple to complex, whether this is of technologies, economies, art, ritual practices or entire societies. Archaeology owed its emergence as a discipline to the need to trace this social evolution in the Western world. It was a product of social evolutionary thought and became an essential source of evidence for the evolution of human societies. While speculation about the past permeates Western society, it is archaeology that has the conceptual and practical means to propose and evaluate such ideas with empirical evidence, thereby

creating our current knowledge and understanding of how we came to be what we are.