Archaeological Theory

Sammie Lynch
Mind Map by Sammie Lynch, updated more than 1 year ago
Sammie Lynch
Created by Sammie Lynch over 4 years ago
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Archaeology Mind Map on Archaeological Theory, created by Sammie Lynch on 01/15/2017.

Resource summary

Archaeological Theory
1 Culture History
1.1 V. G. Childe
1.1.1 'The Danube in Prehistory' 1929
1.1.1.1 1929: Defines culture as 'certain types of remains - pots, implements, ornaments, burial rites, house forms - constantly recurring together'
1.1.1.2 Childe's chart relating archaeological cultures of central europe
1.1.2 Diffusionist
1.1.3 Marxist
1.1.4 Saw archaeology as more than just a list of artefacts
1.1.5 A number of traits occurring together that defines culture (Johnson 2010)
1.1.6 'The Dawn of European Civilisation' 1925
1.1.6.1 archaeological culture was now the working tool of European archaeologists
1.1.6.2 Adopted Kossinna's concepts unaware of the racist implications
1.1.6.3 Used Montelius' concept of chronology and diffusion from the middle east to europe
1.1.6.4 An early example of combining approaches
1.1.7 Archaeological theoretical discussions in his early career were not common, he was a pioneer of archaeological theory and the subject
1.1.8 One of the few to address why things changed/happened in the past - Renfrew & Bahn 2008
1.2 A reaction to antiquarism ('cabinets of curiosity'
1.2.1 The Three Age System (Stone Age, Iron Age, Bronze Age)
1.2.1.1 Christian Thomsen attempted to order artefacts by material to some other characteristic (division of danish artefacts)
1.2.1.1.1 By studying & classifying prehistoric artefacts you could produce chronological ordering - Renfrew & Bahn 2008
1.2.2 A response to Charles Darwin's idea of evolution, 'On the origin of the species' 1859 and 'The Descent of Man' 1871, his work laid foundations for typology of artefacts - Renfrew & Bahn 2008
1.3 A catalyst for cultural ecology
1.4 Descriptive approach
1.4.1 To record and preserve
1.5 Inductive approach
1.5.1 Accumulated information, organised it and came up with a plausible explanation for the patterns observed
1.5.2 Starts with a pile of information, ending with an idea
1.6 Figuring out the fundamentals of human history; what happened? to who? when? where?
1.7 WEAKNESS
1.7.1 Criticised that culture history was only capable of explaining things in simplistic terms/ it lacked theoretical foundations
1.7.2 Trigger 1998 "'The loss of innocence' in historical perpesctive
1.7.2.1 Dissatisfied with the culture-historical approach. Its idealist epistemology, almost exclusive concern with homologies rather than analogies and invocation of diffusion and migration as the principal explanations of culture change seem old fashioned
1.7.3 Unamitious / pessimistic
1.7.4 Functionalist - concerned with utilitarian and functional aspects of living
1.7.5 Qualitative (seen as good by post-processualists)
1.7.6 Later techniques like radiocarbon dating prove ideas once are wrong
1.8 Migration and Diffusion
1.8.1 Change (external to society) brought about from outside via diffusion/migration/invasion
1.9 Oskar Montelius
1.9.1 Typologist (Typology - Says simpler things are older, more complex things are younger)
1.9.2 Believed diffusion of technological skills in prehistoric times went from the middle east to europe
1.10 Fredrich Ratzel - anthopo-geography
1.10.1 Distribution maps/of material items etc
1.10.2 Gustaf Kossinna - German nationalist
1.10.2.1 Applied Ratzels methods to archaeology
1.11 STRENGTHS
1.11.1 Stratigraphy
1.11.2 Seriation
1.11.3 Stylistic analysis
1.12 Enthnography/Ethnoarchaeology
1.12.1 Study of living communities on the basis their material culture will say things about past societies from their material remains
1.13 Thinking moves beyond the written records/ field work develops
2 Processual Archaeologies / New Archaeology
2.1 Lewis Binford (America)
2.1.1 'Archaeology as anthropology' 1962
2.1.1.1 Identified 3 realms of behaviour (environmental, social & ideological)
2.1.1.1.1 These could be inferred from artefacts & the contexts in which they were found
2.1.1.2 Old Copper Complex
2.1.1.2.1 By using this case binford shows that objects can and do change in meaning so their interpretation is different
2.1.1.3 'until we as archaeologists begin thinking of our data in terms of total cultural systems, many such prehistoric "enigmas" will remain unexplained'
2.1.1.4 'we cannot afford to keep our theoretical heads buried in the sand'
2.1.1.5 Technomic artefacts - main function is coping directly with the physical environment i.e. hand axes, adzes etc
2.1.1.6 socio-technic artefacts - material artefacts with main functional context in social subsystems i.e. kings crown, wedding ring etc
2.1.1.7 Ideo-technic artefacts - items which signify/symbolise i.e. figures of deities, clan symbols etc
2.1.2 Sought to explain things rather than just describe - Renfrew & Bahn 2008
2.2 David Clarke (Britain)
2.2.1 Archaeology; the loss of innocence 1973
2.2.1.1 Consciousness, self-consciousness and critical self-consciousness
2.2.1.1.1 Consciousness
2.2.1.1.1.1 Achieved when the discipline is named, archaeology is what archaeologists do
2.2.1.1.2 Self-consciousness
2.2.1.1.2.1 Attempts at self-knowledge, look at what we know
2.2.1.1.3 Critical self-consciousness
2.2.1.1.3.1 We now think about what we don't know rather than what we do know
2.2.1.2 Outlines new methodologies
2.2.1.2.1 scientific (C14 dating etc)
2.2.1.2.2 computer
2.2.1.2.3 Field
2.2.1.2.4 Mathematical
2.2.1.3 Epistemology - the study of how we know what we know
2.2.1.4 'Archaeology is archaeology is archaeology' - that is, archaeology is a subject in its own right
2.2.1.5 M. Parker Pearson 1998
2.2.1.5.1 A response to Clarke's 1973 loss of innocence
2.2.1.5.2 Consciousness is a naming/ the definition of the subject
2.2.1.5.3 Self-consciousness is the technical revolution in procedures, classifications, principles and rules
2.2.1.5.4 Critical self-consciousness metaphysical, philosophical and theoretical revolution
2.2.2 A big fan of the appropriate terminology (the jargon)
2.2.3 Analytical Archaeology 1968
2.2.3.1 Willingness of processualists to use more sophisticated quantitative techniques & draw from other disciplines - Renfrew & Bahn 2008
2.3 A reaction to cultural ecology
2.4 'Archaeology is anthropology or it is nothing' Willey and Phillips 1958
2.4.1 Reiterated in Binfords 1962 article
2.4.2 The goals of archaeology should be that of anthropology
2.5 Explanation not description of cultural/social
2.5.1 Isolate the processes at work within a society
2.5.2 Deductive approach
2.6 Middle Range Theory
2.6.1 More of a set of methods more than a theory
2.6.2 To bridge the interpretive gulf between the facts dug up and the invisible but once dynamic behaviour that created the patterns in the data we study
2.6.3 We make assumptions to link static present data to dynamics of the past
2.7 Systems Theory
2.7.1 Adopted from mathematics, Kent Flannery
2.7.1.1 All entities behave as a system & can therefore be broken apart to determine the rules that govern them
2.8 Uses scientific methods to get at the truth
2.9 WEAKNESS
2.9.1 Functionalism cannot explain change adequately, why do societies become increasingly complex?
2.9.2 Its insistence on scientific approach
2.9.3 Overall picture is of bits & pieces than an overall structure
2.10 STRENGTHS
2.10.1 New archaeology asks questions - a critique of culture history as it doesnt
2.10.2 Uses new methods
2.10.3 Addresses the problems of culture history
2.11 Positivist - valid knowledge only comes from scientific knowledge
2.12 Objective - the past must speak for itself
2.13 Attempts to remain ethically neutral
2.14 Concerns with the way culture history explained things/ didn't explain things - Renfrew & Bahn 2008
3 Post-Processual / Interprative
3.1 Ian Hodder
3.1.1 Hodder - Archaeology in 1984
3.1.1.1 The Black Box - difficulty looking into the box with anything more than guesswork
3.1.1.1.1 systems analysis suggested that correlations could be observed between inputs and outputs & the predictability of such relationships in the past and present could be used to test ideas about the contents on the box
3.1.1.1.1.1 You know what goes into and comes out of the box but not the contents of the box
3.1.1.2 The Perceived Box - replace the black box with a much more uncertain box (more dependant on the view of the observer). the problem for the archaeologist is the objects/systems they observe depend on the theories they are supposedly testing
3.1.2 Catalhoyuck, Turkey - Renfrew & Bahn 2008
3.1.2.1 Excavated by Hodder in 1993/5 using modern field techniques
3.1.2.1.1 Used video diaries for excavators as they dug (use of technology today)
3.1.2.1.1.1 Made data for dig available via the web/publish findings ASAP to further post-procyssualist views for multiple alternative interpretations
3.1.2.1.1.1.1 Allow more open-ended/multi-vocal approaches to interpretation, allowing locals/visitors
3.1.2.1.1.1.1.1 Insights from science show deposits on house floors mean the buildings were houses used for a range of daily functions
3.2 Emphasis on ideas and beliefs of past societies
3.3 Meta-narrative
3.4 Heavily influenced by post-modern philosophies and a reaction to processual archaeologies
3.5 Interpretation; this is what its really about, interpretation and not producing 'true' accounts of the past
3.6 Phenomenology
3.6.1 To know the world as others do
3.6.2 Get inside the heads of those long gone
3.6.2.1 Stress on personal experiences of the individual & how encounters with the material world & with the objects in it, shape our understanding of the world
3.7 Material culture is open to different readings by different individuals. We can all read meanings differently, there's no one past
3.8 Interpretation is always hermeneutic (theory & practice of interpretation)
3.9 Rejects the systemic view of culture
3.10 Argues that all archaeology is unavoidably political
4 Cultural Ecology 1940s/50s
4.1 Hawkes' Ladder of Inference 1954
4.1.1 Peeling the onions 4 layers
4.1.1.1 Each peel brings tears to your eyes as you realise whats been lost due to not having been written down
4.1.1.2 Layer one (techniques)
4.1.1.2.1 Layer two (subsistence-economics)
4.1.1.2.1.1 Layer three (Social/political institutions)
4.1.1.2.1.1.1 Layer four (Religion/spiritual life)
4.1.2 The difficulty of inferring activity in the absence of texts
4.1.3 some aspects of the past are more accessible than others
4.2 Grahame Clark
4.2.1 Argued that by studying how populations adapted to their environments we can understand many aspects of ancient society - Renfrew & Bahn 2008
4.2.2 Star Carr 1950s
4.3 Based on that any culture is an adaption to the particular environment in which it developed
4.4 Julian Steward highlighted fact that cultures act with one another AND with the environment - Renfrew & Bahn 2008
4.5 C14 dating developed 1949 Willard Libby
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