Bruce G. Trigger— 2006 James R. Wiseman Book Award

Award Citation:

The Archaeological Institute of America is pleased to present the 2006 James R. Wiseman Book Award to Bruce G. Trigger, for Understanding Early Civilizations: A Comparative Study (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2003).

This book is a magisterial comparative study that Bruce Trigger has been developing for over thirty years.  Understanding Early Civilizations compares the major civilizations of the world along historically and philosophically important thematic lines.  The committee concurred that his command of a wide range of material from both the New World, especially the Maya, and the Old World, especially the Near East and Egypt, makes this an incomparable text, sure to be foundational for the discipline of archaeology.

Although the synthesis of data is encyclopedic, the work is also methodologically sophisticated, clear, and elegantly based on a consideration of competing philosophical approaches to understanding and interpreting early civilization.  It is also beautifully written, in a way that captures the attention of specialists and non-specialists alike.  Few scholars could successfully take on such a monumental task and none with more élan.

Bruce Trigger's inimitable ability to convey, in a creative way, the complex ideas and empirical questions that underlie theoretical controversy has clearly reached a new peak with the publication of this masterwork.  Understanding Early Civilizations is a magnificent achievement and the AIA is proud that it is the 17th recipient of the James R. Wiseman Book Award.

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