Former U. of C. prof was ‘giant’ in archaeology
BY Stefano Esposito Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org April 15, 2011 6:14PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
Lewis Binford had a poster on his office wall of a charging rhinoceros, with the caption: “I may have faults, but being wrong is not one of them.”
The former assistant professor at the University of Chicago was a “giant” in the archeological world who loved to challenge conventional wisdom about his field and wasn’t afraid to raise his voice while doing it.
“Lewis Binford led the charge that pushed, pulled and otherwise cajoled archeology into becoming a more scientific enterprise,” said David Meltzer, a prehistory professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where Mr. Binford was professor emeritus. “The impact of his work was felt not only here in America, but around the world.”
Mr. Binford, who was 79, died Monday at his home in Kirksville, Mo., according to the SMU Department of News and Communication.
Mr. Binford was at the U. of C. from 1961 to 1965, and it was there that he wrote a “path-breaking” article proposing that archeologists abandon the emphasis on cataloging artifacts and instead focus on what the artifacts revealed about prehistoric cultures.
“The irony is [Mr. Binford] never made any great discoveries,” Meltzer said. “Lew wasn’t a King Tut tomb kind of guy. He didn’t find things, he found things out.”
Survivors include: Mr. Binford’s wife, Amber Johnson, and a daughter, Martha Binford.