Introduction to Archaeology: Class 3
What we want to learn - and how
Copyright Bruce Owen 2002
A little more on what archaeology is
• Archaeology is generally defined either by its data or by its goals
Defined by data: Archaeology is the study of the material remains of, and related to, past
artifacts, buildings, food garbage, burials, etc.
One of the main things that distinguishes this view of archaeology from antiquarianism and
art history is that archaeologists emphasize studying these material remains
Context or association: the relationships between objects, and between objects and their
Thomas emphasized this on the first page of Chapter 1.
Many types of context: stratigraphic, spatial or geographic distribution, chronological,
statistical association, etc.
Defined by goals: Archaeology is the extension of anthropology into the past, using mostly
material remains as evidence.
(some kinds of non-material evidence that help include glottochronology, ethnohistory,
mythology, etc.; ancient written texts are both material and not…)
This begs the question of what anthropology is: a subject hotly disputed right now by
literally, anthropology is the study of humankind
this is part of the thrust of Thomas's chapter 2: to understand Americanist archaeology,
you have to understand a little about anthropology's approach to the world
The anthropological approach
Thomas's examples of anthropologists: Richard Leakey, Jane Goodall, Don Johanson, maybe
Steven Jay Gould.
Who are these people?
4 generally recognized subfields of anthropology:
biological (or physical)
shared anthropological outlook
holistic: to understand humans and society, you must consider biology, ecology, culture
(what's that??), language, politics…
everyone disagrees about what culture is (but we all "know it when we see it")
a very rough gloss: knowledge, beliefs, myths, aesthetics, technology, language, social
rules, etc. that people learn and that structure their lives
emic vs. etic approaches to studying people: