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This is the first book-length study to explore the relationship between archaeology and modern thought, showing how philosophical ideas that developed in the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries still dominate our approach to the material remains of ancient societies. It discusses the modern emphasis on method rather than ethics or meaning, our understanding of change in history and nature, the role of the nation-state in forming our views of the past, and contemporary notions of human individuality, the mind, and materiality. Julian Thomas also addresses the modern preoccupation with depth, which enables archaeology to be used as a metaphor in other disciplines. The book concludes by advocating a "counter-modern" archaeology that refuses to separate material evidence from political, moral, rhetorical, and aesthetic concerns, as well as meaning.