The Archaeology of Consumption

Posted: 2 Nov 2011

See all articles by Paul R. Mullins

Paul R. Mullins

Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)

Date Written: October 2011


A vast range of archaeological studies could be construed as studies of consumption, so it is perhaps surprising that relatively few archaeologists have defined their scholarly focus as consumption. This review examines how archaeology can produce a distinctive picture of consumption that remains largely unaddressed in the rich interdisciplinary consumer scholarship. Archaeological research provides concrete evidence of everyday materiality that is not available in most documentary records or ethnographic resources, thus offering an exceptionally powerful mechanism to examine complicated consumption tactics. In a broad archaeological and anthropological context, consumption studies reflect the ways consumers negotiate, accept, and resist goods' dominant meanings within rich social, global, historical, and cultural contexts.

Suggested Citation

Mullins, Paul R., The Archaeology of Consumption (October 2011). Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 40, pp. 133-144, 2011, Available at SSRN: or

Paul R. Mullins (Contact Author)

Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) ( email )

1309 E. 10th St.
Indianapolis, IN 47405
United States

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