Archaeology: An Introduction - 4th
The Online Companion: updated November 2007
CHAPTER 6 : Making
Sense of the Past
6.1. WHERE IS ARCHAEOLOGY AT
THE BEGINNING OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY?
6.2. ARCHAEOLOGICAL THEORY
6.3. TOWARDS PROCESSUAL
6.6. ARCHAEOLOGY AND THE
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6.1. WHERE IS
ARCHAEOLOGY AT THE BEGINNING OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY?
6.1.1. Too much
6.1. WHERE IS ARCHAEOLOGY AT THE
BEGINNING OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY?
Archaeology has grown rapidly since
1900, with the result that virtually every country in the world now operates
some form of state-financed protection of ancient monuments, as well as
supporting the subject in universities and museums.
IN THE NEWS Links to news stories published on the web, maintained
by Texas A&M Department of Anthropology.
Monuments Record 'As well as our search room in Swindon where you
can browse a huge collection of photographs and historic resources, the
National Monuments Record (NMR) also provides many specialist services
such as Developing Standards and Partnership Projects to help you find the
resources you need.' (English Heritage)
- National Archaeological
Database (U.S.) 'Reports module, is an expanded bibliographic
inventory of over 350,000 reports on archeological investigation and
planning, mostly of limited circulation. This "gray literature"
represents a large portion of the primary information available on
archeological sites in the U.S.'
- AHDS Archaeology
'... is hosted by ADS and is part of the Arts and Humanities Data Service
(AHDS).' Repository for all sorts of archaeological data.
Documentation Association ''Documentation' is the name of an area
of professional practice in the heritage sector. It defines how museums
manage knowledge and information about the collections in their care.'
(Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA))
6.1.1. Too much
Certain factors have led to a
fragmentation of academic archaeology into restricted periods of the past,
limited geographical areas or arcane philosophies of interpretation.
Web site 'OLogy means "the study of." And here on the
American Museum of Natural History's OLogy Web site, you can study and
explore many cool OLogies'. (American Museum of Natural History).
Light-hearted collection of different academic pursuits (including
Archaeology 'This is a forum for exploring ways of attaining
symmetry in archaeology. We all share the common belief that archaeology
in its current state of thinking is moving too far from things. Stretched
across a yawning divide between the material world and language,
archaeology is plagued by a climate of multiple communities with
incommensurable theoretical platforms and agendas.' (Stanford University:
Christopher Witmore and Timothy Webmoor )
:: Darwin and Marx
migration, or diffusion?
:: Nationalism and
6.2. ARCHAEOLOGICAL THEORY
Archaeological thought happens
whenever archaeologists 'do archaeology', but theory emerges when they reflect
upon what they are doing, and why, and as a result make decisions about the way
they will proceed in the future.
Theory: An Introduction by Matthew Johnson. The Amazon bookstore
page allows you to browse some sample pages of this engaging introductory
Theoretical Approaches to Archaeology Introductory notes comparing
three current approaches - culture history, processual, and postprocessual
- from a teaching site (Nancy White, University of South Florida College
of Arts and Sciences)
Archaeology Group (TAG) '...was founded as a national body in 1979
with the aim of promoting debate and discussion of issues in theoretical
archaeology. Its principal activity is the promotion of an annual
conference, traditionally held in December and organised so as to be
accessible at low cost to research students and others.' Includes links to
TAG Meetings and Conferences, many of which have abstracts of papers which
will give a good idea of the range of current theoretical preoccupations.
Roman Archaeology Conference 'The first Theoretical Roman
Archaeology Conference was held in 1991 to widen the range of perspectives
offered, and voices heard, in Roman Archaeology. In 2001, a Standing
Committee was established to ensure that TRAC continues to serve this
purpose well into the future.' As with TAG, this site has links to
conferences whose programmes indicate theory in a historical
'Archaeological theory and associated fields of interest list'. If you
register you may search the archives of correspondence.
for teaching the History of Anthropology 'We are making available
for educational purposes a large selection of articles published in the
American Anthropologist on the subject of the history of the discipline of
anthropology. This is not a selection of papers of historical
significance, but papers on the subject of the history of the field, along
with some obituaries. Our goal is to facilitate learning and teaching the
history of anthropology.' (American Anthropological Association Centennial
Any well-read antiquarian of the late
eighteenth or early nineteenth century who encountered ancient objects and
sites could place them into a scheme of human development that involved
progress, and the same background influenced scientists and political
theorists, including people who are still significant today such as Darwin and
----- Darwin and Marx
The Darwinian concept of evolution
contributed to acceptance of the great antiquity of human ancestors by
reinforcing the awareness of 'deep time' developed by geologists in the
eighteenth century, and by archaeologists in the nineteenth. Rather than seeing
social stages as a natural state of affairs Marx attributed them to
contradictions between different classes or productive forces and explained
their progression not in terms of 'evolution' but by dialectical materialism.
- On The Origin of
Species by Means of Natural Selection by Charles Darwin. Complete
text of first edition (TalkOrigins Archive)
Marx (1818-1883) Biography with links to wrtings and concepts from
Childe and Marxist archaeology 'Childe, as both academic and
activist, was heavily influenced by Marxism. The compelling interpretive
sweep of his grand narratives of prehistory and antiquity are rooted in
his materialist approach. That is what has made Man Makes Himself (1936)
and What Happened in History (1942), Childe’s two popular syntheses
that between them chart the history of Europe and the Near East from the
Old Stone Age to the fall of the Roman Empire, probably the most widely
read archaeology books ever written.' (Neil Faulkner, International
Socialism Issue: 116: 28 September 07)
Spencer (1820-1903) 'British philosopher and sociologist, Herbert
Spencer was a major figure in the intellectual life of the Victorian era.
He was one of the principal proponents of evolutionary theory in the mid
nineteenth century, and his reputation at the time rivaled that of Charles
Darwin. Spencer was initially best known for developing and applying
evolutionary theory to philosophy, psychology and the study of society...'
(from The Internet Encyclopedia of
Links had been made between economics,
technology and social progress since ancient Greece, but material culture was
not incorporated into such theories in a systematic manner until the nineteenth
- V. GORDON
CHILDE 'Gordon Childe's writings give us an overview of the
culture history of the Western cultural tradition from a
rational-utilitarian point of view. He was as sensitive to factors of
diffusion as to those of cultural evolution. His writings are full of
clear and concise perceptions and they have had a natural appeal to an
anthropology which was, very rightly, beginning to concern itself with
generalities about extinct cultures as well as with living ones.' (Robert
Braidwood/American Anthropological Association)
- Culture History
'The historiographic method of early fieldworkers was therefore explicitly
grounded in nineteenth-century historical theory and this approach has
come to be known as Culture History (a term often used in a pejorative
sense). Culture History was responsible for establishing the basic
framework within which all archaeologists operate, by collecting and
sorting the basic material culture sequences across the world. Without
this classificatory approach, it would have been impossible to develop the
discipline further.' (Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews and James Doeser, Bad Archaeology
- an informative site with an ironic name!))
migration, or diffusion?
Diffusionism gained some support from
the concept of evolution, because it provided an explanation of 'progress'
through the inevitable spread of 'improvements' from advanced to less developed
areas - an evolutionary concept related to the idea of the 'survival of the
fittest' popularised by Herbert Spencer.
Medieval Britain Invasion and migration have been studied
intensely in the archaeology and history of Celtic and Anglo-Saxon
Britain. This detailed site examines many cases, and includes Birth Myths of the
Nations of Britain and 'Teutonic' England,
an interesting example of 19th-century historical explanation couched in
terms of ethnic groups on the move.
and where did civilisation begin? In the 19th century, most
Europeans and north Americans believed the Bible story that Ancient Egypt
had been the first great civilisation. It seemed obvious that civilisation
had begun in the Middle East and then
spread out across the world – this view was called 'diffusionism'.'
(John Romer, Great
"Roman Figurine" Supposedly Excavated at Calixtlahuaca
'The diffusionists have taken this case up with a vengeance, and the
"Roman" figurine is all over the web. After some research on
Calixtlahuaca, I am dubious of the validity of this find. ...the case for
a Roman object in pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica remains weak.' (Michael E.
Smith, Arizona State University)
Culture in Japan 'Megalithic culture is distributed widely over
the coast of Continents except the
Antarctic Continent in the world. Therefore some problems of diffusion
should come out naturally. ... Eliot Smith, famous for "the Diffusion
theory" is not accepted at present, it is hard to deny diffusion of
the Megalithic Culture itself.' (SAJI Yoshihiko)
Concepts of social evolution and
diffusion were a mixed blessing for archaeological interpretation. Although
Darwinism reinforced (rather than initiated) racist interpretations of the
past, evolution and diffusion influenced the political outlook of the leading
and Nationalism 'A range of sites looking at issues of
nationalism, ethnicity, and culture history, and the uses to which
archaeology has been put in their name.' (Archaeology at the University of Glasgow)
for "The Archaeology of Ethnicity in America" Personal
statement accompanying college course notes: 'Classes that fulfill the
ethnicity requirement must present information on groups neglected by
previous scholarship, but they also address how ethnicity is constructed
as a social category and works by critical scholars that have transformed
conventional scholarship in the given field of study.' (Elizabeth
Race and the Archaeology of the Atlantic Slave Trade 'The new
atmosphere in British later historical archaeology has seen a continued
neglect of the issue of ethnicity - despite the presence of significant
numbers of Africans, Asians and other ethnic minorities in Britain
throughout the past five hundred years. Archaeology has unique access to
the material remains of the past landscapes and artefacts through which
ethnicities were expressed and negotiated - a potential which has been
investigated by American studies of the archaeology of slavery.' (Dan
Hicks, University of Bristol/Assemblage 2000)
6.3.1. The New
Ethnoarchaeology and Middle
6.3. TOWARDS PROCESSUAL ARCHAEOLOGY
Once detailed sequences of artefacts
and cultures had been established, and after they had been placed into a
chronological framework through documentary evidence or radiocarbon dating,
they could be studied in more sophisticated ways.
6.3.1. The New
New archaeology grew out of
pre-existing archaeological and anthropological ideas, and it was by no means
replaced when 'post-processualism' emerged during the 1980s
- Philosophy and the
New Archaeology 'Following the lead of Lewis Binford, several
archaeologists in the late 1960s began to argue for what came to be called
the New Archaeology. Inspired by developments within the philosophy of
science, they wanted to do more than just describe and believed that
genuine explanations could be achieved by changing direction in
archaeology.' (Paul Newall 2005, from The Galilean Library)
- The ‘New
Archaeology’ of the 1960s and 70s 'The generation of
archaeologists that came to maturity in the 1960s was carried along on a
rush of technological innovation, a deep respect for the scientific method
and an evangelising outlook that reflected the spirit of the age. They
wanted to change archaeology by making it a truly scientific discipline.'
(Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews and James Doeser, Bad Archaeology)
- SMU ANTHROPOLOGY
PROFESSOR ELECTED TO NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES 'Often referred
to as "The Father of Modern Archaeology," [Lewis R.] Binford has
changed the way people think about prehistoric societies. An article in
the November-December 1999 Scientific American magazine described Binford
as "quite probably the most influential archaeologist of his
generation."' (Southern Methodist University News, May 2001)
Ethnoarchaeology and Middle Range Theory
Instead of carrying out modern
experiments, some archaeologists (especially prehistorians) chose to conduct
the kind of fieldwork traditionally associated with anthropologists. They
concentrated on making ethnographic observations of everyday life from the
point of view of physical traces - structures, discarded tools, food waste -
which might be recovered by excavation.
- The Dogon blacksmiths
Record (including film) of traditional iron smelting in Mali (INAGINA, Geneva)
Homepage of Dr. Nicholas David, University
including a bibliography.
Critique of Middle-Range Theory in Archaeology 'For the past
decade, several archaeologists have advocated the development of
middle-range theory as a way to give objective meaning to the archaeological
record... They argue that we must translate the static archaeological
record into behaviorally dynamic terms by documenting causal linkages
between relevant behaviors and their static material by-products.' (Essay
written at graduate school by Christopher D. Pierce, 1989)
One major drawback of a strictly
processual view of the past is its failure to address some of the most profound
aspects of human life related to thought and belief.
Archaeology 'Cognitive archaeology is the branch of archaeology
that investigates the development of human cognition. It therefore deals
with a great variety of evidence, ranging from early rock art to other
forms of palaeoart, from animal cognition to palaeoanthropology to
psychology and ontogenic cognitive development, and it also needs to
concern itself with evidence of early human technology and the ability of
domesticating natural systems of energy. ... Its ultimate purpose is to
consider how early humans managed to formulate their various constructs of
reality, and how these may have led to the worldviews held by the human
species today.' (Robert G. Bednarik)
modernism and postmodernism
:: Phenomenology and
hermeneutics; constructivism, Critical Theory and post-colonialism
:: Structuralism and
semiotics, post-structuralism and deconstruction
:: 'The archaeology of
:: Postmodernism and
6.4. TOWARDS POSTPROCESSUAL ARCHAEOLOGY
Interest amongst anthropologists in
diverse modern philosophical approaches to society and culture spilled over
into archaeology, where they came to be described by the inelegant term
archaeologies 'Developing from a critique of the New Archaeology
during the late 1970s and 1980s, Post-processual archaeologies drew
inspiration from structuralism, post-structuralism and critical theory.
Heavily influenced by developing post-modern social theory, it looked to
its opponents as if it might give comfort to the Bad Archaeologists. What
new insights has it brought to Good Archaeology?' (Keith
Fitzpatrick-Matthews and James Doeser, Bad Archaeology)
'uniformitarian' assumptions about the way societies operate according to
abstract rules, whereas postprocessual archaeology took an inside view of
culture, and emphasised individuals - whether ancient people experiencing the
past or modern archaeologists creating interpretations.
the Past: Current Approaches to Interpretation in Archaeology by
Ian Hodder and Scott Hutson. The Amazon bookstore lets you to browse
inside this authoritative book and gain a very good idea of the range of
approaches bracketed together as 'postprocessualism'.
Processual archaeology and after PDF file of a forthcoming chapter
by Michael Shanks: 'Its title tells you only that this archaeology came
after processual. Implied is a coherent program, approach, method, body of
theory. But post processual archaeology cannot be said to have any of
these. Processual archaeology is still a dominant orthodoxy in the largest
community of archaeologists in the world, in the United States: so even
the ‘post’ is a misnomer.'
Philosophy, Critical Theory and Postmodern Thought Martin Ryder, University of Colorado
Includes Resources, Corollary Sites, Readings, People - including most of
the names bandied about in the writings of archaeological theoreticians...
There is a further search-engine to go beyond this excellent resource for
exploring the background of modern thinking that has influenced
6.4.2. Reflexive thinking
In the later twentieth century the
role of a writer has become increasingly self-conscious, and the word reflexive
is frequently used to characterise this awareness. A reflexive approach does
not mean abandoning judgement, but it does require profound thought.
AT THE EDGE OF CHAOS: FURTHER TOWARDS REFLEXIVE EXCAVATION METHODOLOGIES
'In a recent Antiquity article, Ian Hodder proposed that by embracing
post-processual ideas of subjectivity, recursive hermeneutics and multivocality,
a more reflexive excavation methodology should be possible (1997). This
paper broadly concurs with Hodder's thesis but argues that his article did
not take into account many of the other workers within the discipline who
have also put forward similar ideas. This paper therefore seeks to redress
this imbalance by outlining these various perspectives. It also suggests
further means by which reflexivity in excavation practice may be
explored...' (Adrian Chadwick/Assemblage 1997)
6.4.3. Modernity, modernism and
The 'modern' view of European history,
economics and technology presents them as an upward trajectory of progress
through the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, to which awareness of individual
emotions and deeper rational understanding were added in the nineteenth century
by Romanticism and positivist science.
'Postmodernism is hard to define, because it is a concept that appears in
a wide variety of disciplines or areas of study, including art,
architecture, music, film, literature, sociology, communications, fashion,
and technology. It's hard to locate it temporally or historically, because
it's not clear exactly when postmodernism begins. Perhaps the easiest way
to start thinking about postmodernism is by thinking about modernism, the
movement from which postmodernism seems to grow or emerge.' (Mary Klages,
University of Colorado at Boulder)
AND ITS CRITICS Useful collection of definitions and links
(SHANNON WEISS & KARLA WESLEY, from ANTHROPOLOGICAL THEORIES: A GUIDE
PREPARED BY STUDENTS FOR STUDENTS, College
of Arts and Sciences, University of Alabama)
and hermeneutics; constructivism, Critical Theory and post-colonialism
Suspicions about modernity's
confidence in discovering truth were already held by nineteenth-century
philosophers such as Nietzsche, and were reinforced by phenomenology and
hermeneutics, which scrutinised the nature of individual consciousness and
and Phenomenology 'Hermeneutics is the art of understanding and
the theory of interpretation. This definition is really two definitions
combined and much of the later history of hermeneutics can be diagnosed as
the working out of the tension between the two definitions, between the
technical, theoretical task of interpretation and the art of understanding
texts, historical periods, and other people.' (Wesley Wildman, Boston
- The Politics
of Experience: Embodiment and Difference in Our Pasts and Present
Abstracts of papers included in a TAG conference session in 1997: 'In
archaeological theory, phenomenology has recently enjoyed currency as a
way in which we can think about the different relationships between
persons and the material world. It has been applied, in particular, to
evidence from the Neolithic and Bronze ages where the categories
'experience' and 'performance' have served to focus research on the
effects of landscape and architectures on the movements of the 'human'
body and the sensory perceptions of persons. ... The papers offered are an
attempt to bring together various strands of work in the general areas of
embodied knowledges and phenomenology, which do not often occur in the
same session, in order to make explicit the connections between our
interpretations of the past and our present politics.' (Maggie Ronayne
& Chris Fowler)
Adventures in Decolonisation: 'But do we really live in a
'postcolonial' world? Indeed, how appropriate is the term
"postcolonial" to the archaeology we conduct today? While 'post'
means 'after' most texts described as postcolonial are simply critiques of
colonialism, but do not actually portray an archaeology with a form that
is greatly different from that of colonialism.' Short introduction to
World ArchaeologicalConference session convened by Claire Smith, Ken
Isaacson and George Nicholas .
and semiotics, post-structuralism and deconstruction
An important component of
postprocessual archaeology was structuralism, an approach developed in the
study of linguistics that began in the early twentieth century. Meaning in
speech or text emerges from the structure of signs, rather than from an
individual or author; again, the individual is de-centred, with thoughts and
speech determined by an underlying structure, rather than produced by
'There are many structuralists including Ferdinand de Saussure, Roland
Barthes, Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan and Lévi-Strauss. It is even
possible to claim that some important social and/or psychological
theoreticians and certain sciences are structuralist in character because
what they do is to build models of psychological or social reality. ... In
all of the above a distinction is made between what may be called surface
(consciousness, superstructure) structure and deep (unconscious,
infrastructure) structure. It is also worth noting that structuralist
claim that to understand the surface structure one has to understand the
deep structure, and how the it influences the surface structure. It is
accurate to say that of all the structuralist the best known and most
influential is Claude Lévi-Strauss.' (Mark Glazer, University of Texas-Pan
Perspectives of Mapping in Archaeology: Semiotic Critiques and
Standardised Systems 'Language is a tool used by archaeologists to
describe, represent and theorize. By ‘language’ in this
context I refer not only to the spoken and written word, but predominantly
to visual languages, primarily maps in the context of this study. Semiotic
theory details a specific theoretical approach toward language that allows
for the examination of it and its functions, understanding its strengths
and its weaknesses. This is something that will be applied here to an
archaeological context, looking specifically at the structure and function
of the language of site mapping.' (Darran Jordan, PhD Student, Greater
Angkor Project, University of Sydney)
landscape of the Wadi Arabah: Deconstructing the archaeological landscape
of a modern political border (PDF file) 'My 'landscape' is the
Wadi Arabah, today the political border between Jordan
It runs for c. 178 km. between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea. The line of
the modern border was created in 1922 during the period of the British
Mandate over Palestine. ... I am interested in the way the discourse on
this area in the present and in antiquity has been deliberately
manipulated to legitimise modern political realities and identities, as
part of the Arab-Israeli conflict.' (Piotr Bienkowski, Manchester Museum)
archaeology of knowledge'
Michel Foucault looked at the
'archaeology' of knowledge in general, rather than scrutinising texts from a
post-structuralist point of view, but shared the purpose of 'de-centring'
interpretation. He identified discourses - ways of studying or describing
knowledge that characterised various periods of the past or the approaches of
different disciplines, and looked closely at the structures of power that
Archæology of Knowledge 'Can one accept, as such, the distinction
between the major types of discourse, or that between such forms or genres
as science, literature, philosophy, religion, history, fiction, etc., and
which tend to create certain great historical individualities? ... In any
case, these divisions - whether our own, or those contemporary with the
discourse under examination - are always themselves reflexive categories,
principles of classification, normative rules, institutionalised types:
they, in turn, are facts of discourse that deserve to be analysed beside
others; of course, they also have complex relations with each other, but
they are not intrinsic, autochthonous, and universally recognisable
characteristics' (Michel Foucault; Marxists Internet Archive)
Postmodernism is not a specific
school of thought, but a persistent challenge to the assumptions of western
European culture. Its impact is not clear, for most recent philosophical
influences upon archaeology have generated an attitude that resemble modernism
challenging itself, rather than fully-fledged postmodernism.
archaeology Interesting collection of links: 'Post-processual
archaeology sits comfortably within the postmodern condition. ... Within
this cultural context, archaeology is viewed as popular culture; fringe,
indigenous and non-professional archaeology is flourishing; and the
Internet has changed the ways we all access and disseminate 'data'.'
(Interpreting Archaeology resource pages, University of Glasgow)
6.5.1. Agency and
compromise, or pluralism?
peoples and ethnicity
6.5. INTERPRETIVE ARCHAEOLOGY
We should not make the mistake of
thinking that the entire archaeological world became embroiled in debates about
processualism and its theoretical successors. Indeed, much thinking from
outside England and North America has been ignored, particularly when written
in languages other than English.
archaeology and new importation: Mediation and
the material past: A case from Teotihuacán, Mexico. 'Moving in-step with
many post-positivist philosophers of science, both interpretive
archaeologists and processualists, convinced of the inalienability of
theory-ladenness in inquiry, advocate a system of checks-and-balances to
insure credible interpretations of the archaeological record.' (Stanford
University: Dissertation Summary )
6.5.1. Agency and
Agency is a term that expresses the
role of individuals - especially in the form of 'knowledgeable agents'. When
this concept is combined with a view of society that incorporates the
interaction of individuals with social structures it offers great potential for
humanising the past.
to an archaeology of agency 'Agency is often associated with
'putting people back into the past', and most definitions would center
around the relationship between the constitution of the actor, in terms of
cultural and psychological structures, and behavior. This relationship is
usually considered dialectical: structures shape actions, and these
actions reproduce structures.' (John Robb: Paper presented at Agency
Workshop, University College London, November 2001
compromise, or pluralism?
It is not necessary to solve conflict
by means of compromise; different approaches to archaeology may be considered
as discourses or language-games appropriate to different archaeological
UNDER FIRE Interesting review of a book edited by Lynn Meskell:
'Pluralism for some is the inclusion of different social strata or ethnic
groups in the concerns of archaeologists, whilst others see pluralism in
the mix of Western liberalism with international capital and local
fundamentalists. These apparent paralogical and contradictory viewpoints
do however reveal the contradictions within archaeology itself.' (Pedro
Paulo Funari (Campinas State University, Brazil)/WAC)
peoples and ethnicity
The protests of native peoples and
feminists, along with the widening social background of people who have become
archaeologists, have gradually forced established archaeological institutions
and museums to review their perspectives about these aspects of the past - as
many had already done about nationalism and racism.
- Center for
World Indigenous Studies 'Access to indigenous peoples knowledge
and ideas; Conflict resolution based on mutual consent; Protecting the
rights of indigenous peoples.'
Web: 'Resources for Indigenous Cultures around the World'
Database / Anthropology & Archeology with lots of interesting
Indian Studies Program at Michigan State University '...seeks to
form an understanding of American Indian cultures and identities, the
place of American Indian/ Indigenous people in today’s world, and
the changing demands of American Indian/Indigenous peoples in the pursuit
of cross-cultural diversity. We believe these are issues that transcend
traditional boundaries between academic disciplines.'
'The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) is a
Federal law passed in 1990. NAGPRA provides a process for museums and
Federal agencies to return certain Native American cultural items -- human
remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural
patrimony - to lineal descendants, culturally affiliated Indian tribes,
and Native Hawaiian organizations.' (US National Park Service)
Gender in archaeology - like ethnicity
and indigenous rights - is an aspect of the postmodern concern with otherness
which promotes an inclusive attitude to groups in society who face prejudice.
- Gertrude Bell 1868-1926
'...in a time when it was not at all usual for a woman to have a
university education, she went to Oxford to read history, and, at the age
of twenty and after only two years study, she left with a first-class
degree. ... Her first love, however, was always for archaeology, and, as
Honorary Director of Antiquities in Iraq, she established in Baghdad the
Iraq Museum. ... The University of Newcastle upon Tyne Library has
undertaken a 4 year project to check and complete the transcription of the
manuscripts, to recatalogue and digitise the photographs, and to build a
WWW for the finished archive.' The web-site includes an on-line archive of stunning
photographs taken by this adventurous woman.
- Diotima: Materials for the Study of
Women and Gender in the Ancient World '...serves as an
interdisciplinary resource for anyone interested in patterns of gender
around the ancient Mediterranean and as a forum for collaboration among
instructors who teach courses about women and gender in the ancient
world.' (Stoa/Kentucky University).
and Gender in Ancient Egypt: From Prehistory to Late Antiquity
'This exhibition uses Egyptian artifacts from the collection of the Kelsey
Museum and the Papyrology collection of the University of Michigan Library
to examine the roles and lives of women in ancient Egyptian society, and
how these fit into the larger patterns of gender definitions and
relations. Since ancient times, it has been recognized that women occupied
special positions within Egyptian society, but only recently has the
nature of women's experience and status in ancient Egypt been the subject
of systematic study.' (Ann Arbor, Michigan).
gender through archaeology edited by Cheryl Claassen - full text
available online. 'The papers in this collection were presented at the
Anthropology and Archaeology of Women Conference, held at Appalachian
State University in Boone, North Carolina, May 1991.'
6.6. ARCHAEOLOGY AND
management: controlling the present by means of the past?
and the State
from Art Gallery to 'Experience'
in the media
6.6. ARCHAEOLOGY AND THE PUBLIC
Looking at archaeological theory, and
the wider intellectual context in which it developed, helps us to clarify our
own points of view and guard against an unthinking imposition of values and
preoccupations on other societies - past or present.
management: controlling the present by means of the past?
The word 'heritage' became very
popular in the 1980s, and 'heritage management' became an important source of
employment for archaeologists, absorbing a large number of specialists who, in
previous decades, would have made their careers in universities or academic
museums. Many heritage professionals (especially in the USA) prefer to apply
the less emotive description cultural resource management (CRM) to the
conservation and presentation of sites, landscapes and artefacts.
Heritage 'The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection
and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world
considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an
international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of
the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.'
Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) '...is an international
non-governmental organization of professionals, dedicated to the
conservation of the world's historic monuments and sites.'
cultural resources network: '...we seek to provide the web's most complete
source of news, jobs, announcements, consultant listings, and resources
for the cultural resource industry. This website is useful to:
archaeologists, anthropologists, ethnographers, historic preservation
specialists, museum specialists, architectural historians, and other
professionals interested in cultural resources, heritage, and
Research Inc. Commercial Heritage organisation based in Trenton,
New Jersey, founded in 1986: 'Hunter Research provides professional
consulting services in historical research, architectural history,
archaeology, preservation planning, exhibit development and educational
outreach. We cater to public, private and non-profit clients throughout
the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States. Our company seeks to
satisfy clients with an effective and prompt service that is respectful of
our shared cultural heritage.'
of Leicester Archaeological Services 'ULAS is an independent
professional archaeological unit embedded in the School of Archaeology and
Ancient History. ... ULAS is a registered organisation with the Institute
of Field Archaeologists (IFA), offering a comprehensive archaeological
service. It has an annual turnover in excess of £700,000 and employs a
staff of 31.' )
and the State
State involvement in British
archaeology grew in little more than one century from informal supervision of a
small number of sites through cooperation with sympathetic landowners to
implementing planning legislation and providing a major focus for leisure and
- English Heritage
'...exists to protect and promote England's spectacular historic environment
and ensure that its past is researched and understood.' See in particular Heritage
Protection: '...some historic buildings, monuments, landscapes and
areas are of special importance nationally or even internationally. Our
Heritage Protection team identifies these special places so that
particular attention can be given to them where they are likely to be
affected by change in the historic environment.' Links to listed
buildings, scheduled ancient monuments, historic battlefields etc.
Policy Guidance 16: Archaeology and planning 'PPG 16 sets out the Secretary
of State's policy on archaeological remains on land, and how they should
be preserved or recorded both in an urban setting and in the countryside.'
Influential document that has determined the direction of rescue
archaeology in England since 1990.
- National Park Service:
History & Culture: 'History is everywhere. In nearly 400 national
parks and every hometown. It covers everything from the remnants of
ancient civilizations to the boyhood homes of U.S. Presidents to the
stirring sagas of hard-fought wars to the reverberations of one woman
refusing to give up her seat on a bus. History is a part of who we were,
who we are, and who we will be.' (US Department of the Interior)
- The Discovery Programme
'...is an archaeological research institution dedicated to investigating
Ireland's past from earliest times and presenting the results to as
heritage 'Australia is a complex and diverse nation composed of
both Indigenous and immigrant peoples from nearly 200 countries. But we
all have a common heritage that makes us distinctively Australian. By
knowing our heritage - our past, our places and the source of our values -
we can better understand our special place in the world.'
History and Heritage (Chester City Council). An example of
corporate presentation of a historic town in England. The council's
Chester Archaeology: 'Founded in 1972, Chester Archaeology is one
of the longest-established archaeological units in the country and
provides a comprehensive range of services aimed at many different types
6.6.3. Museums: from
Art Gallery to 'Experience'
Archaeological museums once assumed
that visitors only needed to know the origin, date and function of an artefact
on display, but in the twentieth century they gradually attempted to provide
more information through pictures of contemporary sites, explanatory diagrams,
and extended text commentaries and labels.
Library museums pages International searchable database, supported
by the International Council of Museums
(ICOM: 24,000 members in 150 countries)
- Canadian Museum of
Civilization: Archaeology Excellent example of use of Internet for
making information available beyond the institution.
British Museum 'The British Museum holds in trust for the nation
and the world a collection of art and antiquities from ancient and living
Housed in one of Britain's architectural landmarks, the collection is one
of the finest in existence, spanning two million years of human history.
Access to the collection is free.'
- Flints and Stones: Real
Life in Prehistory Pioneering use of the Internet to produce an
electronic version of a temporary exhibition held in the Museum of
Antiquities, University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Center Archeodome 'The Thomsen Center Archeodome covers the open
archeology dig in the prehistoric Indian village and provides visitors
year-round access. The 10,000 square-foot building encloses two full
lodges on its exposed earthen floor. It includes a full laboratory,
darkroom, computer classroom, and video conferencing studio. The site is
the only preserved protected archeological site open to the public in the
state of South Dakota. The Archeodome provides an enclosed archeological
teaching and research facility—one of very few such facilities in
North America. ' (Mitchell
Prehistoric Indian Village, South Dakota)
Viking Centre 'Welcoming 14 million visitors over the past 21
years, visitors can journey through the reconstruction of Viking-Age
streets, as they would have been in the year AD975. JORVIK Viking Centre
also offers three exciting exhibitions and the chance to actually come
face to face with a 'Viking'.' Follow link to DIG: An
Archaeological Adventure: 'Have you ever wanted to: - Take part in
an excavation? - Discover real objects from ancient civilisations? -
Understand how archaeologists recreate the past? Now you can!' (York Archaeological Trust)
Everything that is currently known -
or believed - about Stonehenge is the result of almost nine centuries of
speculation, observation and excavation, guided by changing fashions and
approaches. Since neither the original builders nor the purpose of the structure
have any direct link to the present, its popular attraction stems more from
ignorance than knowledge, and provides an interesting example of the problems
of cultural resource management.
- The Stonehenge
Project '...is designed to improve the setting and interpretation
of Stonehenge. It will remove the sights and sounds of the roads and
traffic from the area near the Stones, recreate chalk downland from arable
farmland and transform the visitor experience with better access to the
landscape and a new world class visitor centre.' Official plans with links
to management plan, proposals for changing the local road system etc.
- The Stonehenge
Saga 'Stonehenge was begun around 3000 BC, in a landscape already
rich in funerary and ceremonial monuments, and was thereafter expanded and
remodelled for more than a thousand years. English Heritage is today the
Guardian of Stonehenge. The National Trust owns the surrounding land (1450
acres), which is rich in prehistoric archaeology.' Links to relevant
documents and notes from meetings listed in chronological order. (Council
for British Archaeology)
- ~ Another
Stonehenge Page ~ 'THE STONEHENGE CAMPAIGN exists to lobby,
campaign, attend meetings, raise public awareness and maintain links with
interested parties for the reinstatement of the Stonehenge Peoples Free
Festival and religious access to Stonehenge itself, and to protect the
Stonehenge landscape and environment.' Collection of links to news
reports, photographs etc
- Save Stonehenge!
'World Heritage Site threatened by roadbuilding scheme!
“...barbaric... No other country in the world would contemplate
treating a site which is a world icon in such a way.” Lord Kennet'.
Informative web site full of news and links, and a message board for
- Official Carhenge Web Site The
ultimate postmodern statement about heritage? 'Thirty-eight automobiles
were placed to assume the same proportions as Stonehenge with the circle
measuring approximately 96 feet in diameter. Some autos are held upright
in pits five feet deep, trunk end down, while those cars which are placed
to form the arches have been welded in place. All are covered with gray
spray paint. The honor of depicting the heel stone goes to a 1962 Caddy.'
The official website for Carhenge, located in Western Nebraska.
Although a conservation ethic began to
develop in Europe and North America during the nineteenth century, most
archaeologists and museums regarded sites and artefacts around the Mediterranean,
the Near East and other parts of the world as a resource to be exploited for
the benefit of their own countries.
- Looting matters!
'David Gill (University of Wales Swansea) and Christopher Chippindale
(University of Cambridge) have been researching the impact of the
antiquities market on the archaeological record. As part of the project
they have identified a number of intellectual consquences of the looting
process. This site provides links to their on-line resources.'
- Portable Antiquities Scheme
'...a voluntary scheme to record archaeological objects found by members
of the public in England and Wales. Every year many thousands of objects
are discovered, many of these by metal-detector users, but also by people
whilst out walking, gardening or going about their daily work. Such
discoveries offer an important source for understanding our past.' British scheme to allow finds
to be recorded to enhance academic knowledge.
- Detecting with Bill
What do you do after a career as an international rock star? Former
Rolling Stone Bill Wyman takes a keen interest in archaeology through the
popular hobby of metal detecting.
in the media
Through archaeology television
programmes, the subject has been given a very positive image through its
ability to work with laboratory scientists and geophysical surveyors, and to
combine scientific information with historical and/or archaeological research
to produce a rounded interpretation of life in the past - frequently enhanced
by artists' reconstructions of people and sites.
- Guardian unlimited
Online version of daily paper with search results for 'archaeology'
(Guardian News and Media Limited)
- Time team
'Here you can catch up on the latest news about Time Team, find out about
past and present programmes and see more of the personalities who make
Time Team tick, as well as unearthing some of the archaeology that brings
Channel 4's award-winning series to life.' Web pages of the unexpected hit
of British television, which has been running for more than 10 years.
Links to programmes accordin to period of the past.
- BBC Archaeology
Information source going beyond individual programmes: 'Discover more
about the techniques used to investigate archaeological sites on land and
sea. With analysis of some fascinating digs and the controversies
surrounding the findings.' Links to further resources.
- Indiana Jones and
the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull New film featuring the character
who made archaeologists cool in Raiders of the Lost Ark
(George Lucas/Steven Spielberg 1981)