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Archeological theory

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Archaeological theory refers to the various intellectual frameworks through which archaeologists interpret archaeological data. It is a branch of the philosophy of archaeology.

There is no one singular theory of archaeology, but many, with different archaeologists believing that information should be interpreted in different ways. Throughout the history of the discipline, various trends of support for certain archaeological theories have emerged, peaked, and in some cases died out. Different archaeological theories differ on what the goals of the discipline are and how they can be achieved.[1]

Some archaeological theories, such as processual archaeology, holds that archaeologists are able to develop accurate, objective information about past societies by applying the scientific method to their investigations, whilst others, such as post-processual archaeology, dispute this, and claim all archaeological data is tainted by human interpretation and social factors, and any interpretation they make about past societies is therefore subjective.[2]

Other archaeological theories, such as Marxist archaeology, instead interpret archaeological evidence within a framework for how its proponents believe society operates and evolves. Marxist archaeologists in general believe that the bipolarism that exists between the processual and post-processual debates is an opposition inherent within knowledge production and is in accord with a dialectical understanding of the world. Many Marxists archaeologists believe that it is this polarism within the anthropological discipline (and all academic disciplines) that fuels the questions that spur progress in archaeological theory and knowledge. This constant interfacing and conflict between the extremes of the two heuristic playing grounds (subjective vs. objective) is believed to result in a continuous reconstruction of the past by scholars.

There is no one singular approach to archaeological theory that has been adhered to by all archaeologists. When archaeology developed in the late 19th century, the first approach to archaeological theory to be practiced was that of cultural-history archaeology, which held the goal of explaining why cultures changed and adapted rather than just highlighting the fact that they did, therefore emphasizing historical particularism.[24] In the early 20th century, many archaeologists who studied past societies with direct continuing links to existing ones (such as those of Native Americans, Siberians, Mesoamericans etc.) followed the direct historical approach, compared the continuity between the past and contemporary ethnic and cultural groups.[24] In the 1960s, an archaeological movement largely led by American archaeologists like Lewis Binford and Kent Flannery arose that rebelled against the established cultural-history archaeology.[25][26] They proposed a "New Archaeology", which would be more "scientific" and "anthropological", with hypothesis testing and the scientific method very important parts of what became known as processual archaeology.[24]

In the 1980s, a new postmodern movement arose led by the British archaeologists Michael Shanks,[27][28][29][30] Christopher Tilley,[31] Daniel Miller,[32][33] and Ian Hodder,[34][35][36][37][38][39] which has become known as post-processual archaeology.

It questioned processualism's appeals to scientific positivism and impartiality, and emphasized the importance of a more self-critical theoretical reflexivity.[citation needed] However, this approach has been criticized by processualists as lacking scientific rigor, and the validity of both processualism and post-processualism is still under debate. Meanwhile, another theory, known as historical processualism has emerged seeking to incorporate a focus on process and post-processual archaeology's emphasis of reflexivity and history.[40]

Archaeological theory now borrows from a wide range of influences, including neo-Darwinian evolutionary thought, phenomenology, postmodernism, agency theory, cognitive science, Structural functionalism, gender-based and Feminist archaeology, and Systems theory.

Archaeological theory. Archaeological theory refers to the various intellectual frameworks through which archaeologists interpret archaeological data.

Archaeological theory

There is no one singular theory of archaeology, but many, with different archaeologists believing that information should be interpreted in different ways. Throughout the history of the discipline, various trends of support for certain archaeological theories have emerged, peaked, and in some cases died out. Different archaeological theories differ on what the goals of the discipline are and how they can be achieved.[1] Other archaeological theories, such as Marxist archaeology, instead interpret archaeological evidence within a framework for how its proponents believe society operates and evolves.

Marxist archaeologists in general believe that the bipolarism that exists between the processual and post-processual debates is an opposition inherent within knowledge production and is in accord with a dialectical understanding of the world. Background[edit] Background. Antiquarians. Antiquarian and Imperial Synthesis. Cultural-Historical. Archaeology of Russia. Russian archaeology begins in the Russian Empire in the 1850s and becomes Soviet archaeology in the early 20th century.

Archaeology of Russia

The journal Sovetskaya Arkheologiia is published from 1957. Archaeologists[edit] Sites[edit] major archaeological cultures and sites in Russia Literature[edit] B. See also[edit] Processual archaeology (New Archaeology) Behavioural archaeology. Post-processual archaeology. Global scope. Development. The impact of ideology.