An Archaeologist's Year in Silicon Valley

By Christine A. Finn

An archaeologist explores the material culture of Silicon Valley.





An archaeologist explores the material culture of Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley, a small place with few identifiable geologic or geographic features, has achieved a mythical reputation in a very short time. The modern material culture of the Valley may be driven by technology, but it also encompasses architecture, transportation, food, clothing, entertainment, intercultural exchanges, and rituals.

Combining a reporter's instinct for a good interview with traditional archaeological training, Christine Finn brings the perspectives of the past and the future to the story of Silicon Valley's present material culture. She traveled the area in 2000, a period when people's fortunes could change overnight. She describes a computer's rapid trajectory from useful tool to machine to be junked to collector's item. She explores the sense that whatever one has is instantly superseded by the next new thing—and the effect this has on economic and social values. She tells stories from a place where fruit-pickers now recycle silicon chips and where more money can be made babysitting for post-IPO couples than working in a factory. The ways that people are working and adapting, are becoming wealthy or barely getting by, are visible in the cultural landscape of the fifteen cities that make up the area called "Silicon Valley."


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262062244 288 pp. | 5.375 in x 8 in 70 illus.


$20.00 X ISBN: 9780262561549 288 pp. | 5.375 in x 8 in 70 illus.


  • [A]n eye-popping survey of the northern California landscape and (perhaps) its future.

    Kirkus Reviews

  • [T]his book is a small delight! I can highly recommend Artifacts as a light, yet fascinating, read.


  • ... fresh insights. That is what Christine Finn delivers.

    an English-Luek



  • Silicon Valley as you never knew it. A fascinating dissection of the community that went from orchards to Apples in one generation and changed the world.

    James Burke

    author of Circles: Fifty Round-Trips Through History, Technology, Science, and Culture