In defense of the use of the word "ritual" used correctly it is well known
that a Japanese house contained a shrine, in Judo the ritual of bowing to a
particular corner (to the shrine which doesn't exist in physical reality)
before stepping on the mat in the absence of a senior judoka is still
observed in many dojo.
Can we actually say that a site or structure is a ritual site if the
builders also used it as a law court, a place for exchanging goods or
services or finding a partner? No. Can we label a place purely as a
settlement site if there are structured depositions as well as middens and
post holes. No.
To me Bad Archaeology includes omitting anything which doesn't prove your
theory, nobody can judge if your interpretaion is a fair or valid one if
data is missing or if through a lack of explicit methodology and theoretical
approach nobody can work out how you came to your conclusions.
Accepting something as 'fact' simply because "an expert", whether qualified
or not, wrote it does not mean it cannot and should not be challenged. Good
archaeology, which is being taught in Universities today does emphasise
going back to the sources. This has a very real impact on how much attention
is paid to good curation and accessibilty of primary material.
The other myth is that archaeology simply studies the past and has no
relevance today apart from making nice stories for visitors, quite the
reverse if you take the line of thinking that as you look at the past the
past looks back at you (probably suggested byTilley) it is relevant because
we are examining ourselves and our own attitudes (I'm a phenomenologist as
you can guess).
>From: Paul Boothroyd <[log in to unmask]>
>Reply-To: British archaeology discussion list <[log in to unmask]>
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: Re: [BRITARCH] Bad Archaeology
>Date: Mon, 17 Sep 2007 11:13:59 +0100
>That is exactly the point I was making, we are so far removed from what we
>are excavating, not only in time but also from the mindset of the people
>created the site/artefact etc.
>I can't get my mind around many of the ideas some of my fellow citizens
>about the modern world, never mind being able to fully comprehend (say) the
>modern Japanese culture and religions, despite having a wealth of
>information and access through modern communications.
>How on earth can we expect to comprehend the culture and religion of a
>society from which we are separated by 5000 years?
>It is surely folly and hubris to think that we really can: however to make
>sense of what we find we are driven to try, to interpret and explain in the
>light of what we know and believe.
>The main thing for an archaeologist is to have an open mind and be
>to alternative ideas and theories and be willing to change interpretation
>as new evidence is uncovered.
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