This book is intended to change the way we understand archaeology, the way it works, and its recent history. We offer seventeen conversations among some of its notable contemporary figures, edited and with a commentary. They delve deeply into the questions that have come to fascinate archaeologists over the last forty years or so, those that concern major events in human history such as the origins of agriculture and the state, and questions about the way archaeologists go about their work. Many of the conversations highlight quite intensely held personal insight into what motivates us to pursue archaeology, what makes archaeologists tick; some may even be termed outrageous in the light they shed on the way archaeological institutions operate – excavation teams, professional associations, university departments. Something of an oral history, this is a finely focused study of a creative science, a collection of bold statements that reveal the human face of archaeology in our contemporary interest in the material remains of the past.