Rantin' and Rovin'

theory

The Archaeogaming Unconference

Easily the best presentation I attended at the SAAs this year was Shawn Graham and Andrew Reinhard talking about archaeogaming – a merging of games and archaeology. They spoke of virtual realities being simply another medium through which to convey…

The Norse and the Islamic World: How Unique is this Ring?

The Norse and the Islamic World: How Unique is this Ring?

There’s been a lot of hype in the last week about a ring worn by a 9th century Viking woman that says, “for Allah” on the glass inlay. Nearly every article discussing the ring says that it confirms contact between…

What Does the Dress Have to Do with Archaeology?

What Does the Dress Have to Do with Archaeology?

We’re all pretty sick of the dress. Apparently friendships have been shattered, relationships destroyed, all because we see different colors in a photo of a dress. But really, we’re all a bit sick of the debate. It’s a picture of…

How to Find Truth in Ancient Art

How to Find Truth in Ancient Art

A few days ago, my friend wrote a post about art in archaeology and whether it is artistic expression or an accurate representation of how things were at that time. This is a question that has plagued archaeologists and art…

Theory Trends in Archaeology

Theory Trends in Archaeology

People like Bourdieu, Geertz, de Saussure, Levi Strauss, Boas, Whorf, Sapir, Kroeber, Mead, Benedict, Schiffer, Binford, Marx, Engels, and many, many others are seen as outdated. They were writing their theories roughly fifty of more years ago, and they’ve been largely disproven by later work. And many academics feel that we should therefore not use any of their theories, because they’re outdated.

Here’s the thing: None of the theories put forth by these academics were ever really disproven in their entirety. Not really. No matter who you look at, there’s something in their work that makes sense, at least for certain specific situations or types of data.

Theoretical Building Blocks

Theoretical Building Blocks

Theories in archaeology are tools. Different theories work better in different situations, just as different tools work better for different jobs. Academics will use these theoretical tools in different ways, because they are trying to figure out what their data mean. They’re going to use the tools they think best to solve the problem.

Archaeological Theory Matters. A Lot.

Archaeological Theory Matters. A Lot.

Theory is important in archaeology. We can’t just look at the physical or chemical characteristics of an object and expect that information to directly reveal information about the people from that object; we have to figure out how the characteristics of that object tell us about people in the past.

Starbucks and the Archaeology of an Archaeologist

Starbucks and the Archaeology of an Archaeologist

About two weeks ago, Robert Chapple made a somewhat unusual archaeology post. He contacted a number of colleagues from around the world and asked them to send him a photo of their desk, right then and there, no tidying allowed. Here’s the problem: I don’t actually have my own desk.

Questioning Theories of Violent Invasion

Last week, Past Horizons posted about a recent study that questioned the notion that Anglo-Saxons invaded Britain and violently displaced any contemporary local population. The study looked at burials from an Anglo-Saxon cemetery in Oxfordshire. The cemetery was in use over roughly 150 years, from the mid-5th through early 7th centuries, making it ideal for a study on population origins.

The Fascinating Relationship of Language and Perception

The Fascinating Relationship of Language and Perception

NPR posted an article yesterday that talks about the idea that language shapes the way we think. Lera Boroditsky, a psychologist at UCSD, argues that language affect the way we process our surroundings and how we perceive and remember. John McWhorter, a linguist at Columbia University, says these differences in language exist, but they actually reflect our culture and worldview rather than shape or limit it.

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