What Is Archaeology?: An Essay on the Nature of Archaeological Research / Edition 2

What Is Archaeology?: An Essay on the Nature of Archaeological Research / Edition 2

by Paul Courbin
     
 

ISBN-10: 0226116565

ISBN-13: 9780226116563

Pub. Date: 10/28/1988

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


Paul Courbin puts forward a penetrating and eloquent critique of the New Archeology, a movement of primarily American and British archaeologists that began in the 1960s and continues today. The New Archeologists dropped the "ae" spelling, symbolizing their intent to put the field on a modern and scientific footing. They questioned the bases, the objectives, and

Overview


Paul Courbin puts forward a penetrating and eloquent critique of the New Archeology, a movement of primarily American and British archaeologists that began in the 1960s and continues today. The New Archeologists dropped the "ae" spelling, symbolizing their intent to put the field on a modern and scientific footing. They questioned the bases, the objectives, and consequently the methods of traditional archaeology.

Courbin examines this movement, its latent philosophy, its methods and their application, its theories, and its results. He declares that the record shows a devastating failure. The New Archeologists, he contends, may have developed scientific hypotheses, but in most cases they failed to carry out what is necessary to test their theories, thus contradicting the very goals they had set for the discipline.

Reevaluating the field as a whole, Courbin asks, What is archaeology? He distinguishes it from such related fields as history and anthropology, emphatically arguing that the primary task of archaeology is what the archaeologist alone can accomplish: the establishment of facts—stratigraphies, time sequences, and identification tools, bones, potsherds, and so on. When archaeological findings lead to historical or anthropological conclusions, as they very often do, archaeologists must be aware that this involves a specific change in their work; they are no longer archaeologists proper. The archaeologist's work, Courbin stresses, is not a humble auxiliary of anthropology or history, but the foundation upon which historians and anthropologists of ancient civilizations will build and without which their theories cannot but collapse. What Is Archaeology? was originally published in French in 1982.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226116563
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
10/28/1988
Series:
Heritage of Sociology Ser.
Edition description:
1
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.50(h) x (d)

Table of Contents


Preface to the English Translation
Translator's Preface
Introduction
1. The "New Archeology"
The Founding Fathers
A Prehistoric and Americanist Archaeology
Traditional Archaeology as Seen by the New Archeology
The New Archeology Compared with the "Old"
The Philosophical Foundations of the New Archeology
The Theoretical and Scientific Environment of the New Archeology
The Objective of the New Archeology
2. The Hypothetico-deductive Method
The Hypo-deductive Method
The Validation of Hypotheses
Protracted Amazement: The Nonvalidation of Hypotheses
Pits and Pots
Against Braidwood
Against Bordes
The American Disciples
The English
Renfrew and the Cyclades
Traditional Validations
Pseudovalidations
Validations
3. Laws
Laws
Variations
No Laws
Mickey Mouse Laws
Schiffer's Laws
Critique
Waste Products Law
South's Law
4. Theories
Theories
Central Theory, Middle-Range Theory
Read's Theory: Area of Habitation and Population
Critique
Binford and the Nunamiut Eskimo
Against Yellen
Critique
5. The Old Archaeology and the New: A Comparison of Results
An Epistemological Failure
The Essential Conclusions
Their Character
Their Solidity
Their Interest
The Results of Conventional Archaeology
The Example of Nichoria
6. The Spirit and the Letter
The State of Mind
Sects
Days of Contempt
The Motivations
Form
References and Illustration
A Cloud of Smoke
7. The Conned
The "Conned" and Followers
Critical Faculty
Variability
The Motivations
8. An Attempt at an Assessment
An Acknowledgment of Failure
Logical Reasons
Philosophical Reasons
9. What Is Archaeology?
What Archaeology Alone Can Do
The Establishment of Facts
Facts and Approaches to Problems
Toward an Open Approach to Problems
Against the Manipulation of Facts
The Difficulties of Identification
Archaeological Demonstration
Induction
A Return to the Facts
10. The Territory of Archaeology
New Fields and New Problems
Excavation
Experimental Archaeology
Archaeometry
The Elaboration of Data
Description
Classification
Quantification
Processing by Computer
11. The Frontiers of Archaeology
Anthropology or History?
History and Liberty
The Distribution of Roles
Conclusion
Abbreviations
Notes
Index

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