JiscMail Logo
Email discussion lists for the UK Education and Research communities

Help for BRITARCH Archives


BRITARCH Archives

BRITARCH Archives


BRITARCH@JISCMAIL.AC.UK


View:

Message:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Topic:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Author:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

Font:

Proportional Font

LISTSERV Archives

LISTSERV Archives

BRITARCH Home

BRITARCH Home

BRITARCH  October 2012

BRITARCH October 2012

Options

Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Log In

Log In

Get Password

Get Password

Subject:

Re: The theory of the Archaeological Practitioner

From:

Nick Boldrini <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

British archaeology discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 26 Oct 2012 09:10:31 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (123 lines)

Hi Mike

follow bits of better than others, so some relevant reading may not be quite what your after.

Anyway, I don't think people just do anything, I think that they always think about it even if a lot of that thought is subconscious. For example, digging a hole. People don't generally do work for no reason, so the hole would have been dug for a reason - was it a storage pit, a well, a burial etc etc? if you can work that out then you can start getting into the thinking behind that. Eg it's a burial its East/west Orientated - were they Christian? Why bury rather than cremate/excarnate? It's a storage pit, what did they want to store and why?

As to where archaeologists should dig holes - theres a book which comes at this from a different angle which may be of interest available free here http://thehumanjourney.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=280&Itemid=193 This is reasonably high level and abstract (from memory), but I think will be of interest as it articulates a lot of the unconscious thought processes which could appear to the observer to be based solely on experience

Most archaeological theory is (in my view) very much trying to argue that actually deciding what something is, or where to dig, or why something happened isn't just obvious/common sense (a phrase I detest with a passion) /pragmatic, but is as a result of a thought process that can be explicated, even if you have to reverse engineer them because you didn't do it consiously, but just knew.

My favourite example of this is a linear earthwork - bank and ditch - which sides the inside and why? I have thought about this a bit (to much possibly) and I am sure you will all have an answer. But think about this - why have you chosen one side as the inside and the other as the outside? And how can you be sure that someone in the past thought the same way?

have fun

best wishes

Nick Boldrini
Historic Environment Record Officer
Archaeology Section
Design and Historic Environment Team
Planning Service
Regeneration and Economic Development
Durham County Council
County Hall
Durham
DH1 5UQ
Tel: 03000 267008
[log in to unmask]

**Now available ** Order your copy of "Faverdale, Darlington: excavations at a major settlement in the northern frontier zone of Roman Britain" by Jennifer Proctor.
Both these publications and more are available direct from the Archaeology Section (Archaeology publications for sale - Durham County Council)

Web: www.durham.gov.uk
Follow us on Twitter @durhamcouncil
Like us at facebook.com/durhamcouncil

-----Original Message-----
From: British archaeology discussion list [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Michael Haseler
Sent: 26 October 2012 09:23
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [BRITARCH] The theory of the Archaeological Practitioner

When people dig a hole, they don't tend to spend a lot of time thinking
why they dug the hole ... except archaeologists.

But normal people just "do it". Now, that is in itself a theory ... that
allowing oneself just to "get on with the job" ... will get the "job"
done. A lot of theoretical constructs come into play ... about the
mind-body dynamic, about have materials behave and the way "things
work". These are usually so intuitive to us, that we don't even think
about the theoretical constructs we use to create this dynamic with the
world.

Now, in archaeology, this is important. Because the whole of archaeology
could be described as people "just doing things".

Or "we did holes" ... in order to find when,why,how ... "people dug holes".

But archaeology has this concept (theory) of the "ritualistic" ... which
I couldn't understand until someone whispered to me "that really means
we don't know". But, ritualistic implies a lot more, it implies a
purpose and meaning ... whereas "just digging a hole" ... implies
functionality. One could liken the "ritualistic" versus "practitioner"
to the debate "creationism" versus "evolution". One a theory implying
meaning and purpose, the other a theory that there is no meaning or
purpose. It is just "what happens".

So, just as we can have a "theory of evolution", it should also be
possible in archaeology to have a "theory of just doing things". I
suppose, the equivalent of "just doing things" in the present would be
considered economics. Animals clearly don't have money, but other
resources like energy could be a proxy for money creating what I term
"enerconics", or I suppose land, or other resources could be other
proxies so we get "any-conics". But leaving aside the unnecessary pun,
we could apply the theory of economics to pre-history and create a
theory of archaeology with NO MEANING. You could say that this is a
deterministic theory ... that we are all pre-ordained by economic
necessity to do what we do and  like the peacocks feathers are just a
obscure artefact of evolution, so all this symbolism we see, all the
apparent beauty and symbolism in archaeology, is merely an artefact of
economic needs.

But this approach that we are "pre-ordained" and really have no choice,
ignores the fact that people spend an awful lot of time thinking, and we
even think a lot even when we are t "just doing things". Time-team "just
dug holes", but they spent a lot of time thinking about where to put
those holes and responding to what they found in the holes. There was
the economic resource constraint (3 days, x-workers and Tony), but the
resource constraint didn't dictate WHERE the holes where dug, only how
many/how big.

So, what was the theoretical model used? Apparently it was "there's
something interesting here - let's dig". Or perhaps more accurately "the
most interesting place looks to be ...". Usually done to combine a
number of features or where experience suggests that most information
will be found in terms of datable artefacts. This is a theory ... but
it's not a theory I find in the archaeology book of theory.

Also, there is a clear ethos (theory) in archaeology that "experience
counts". ... age and experience seemed to be quite critical when
deciding where to dig next. This could just be that those with grey
hairs spend least time in holes on their knees, and so have more time to
look at the big picture, but I suspect, there is a fundamental theory in
archaeology that experience IN ITSELF is a basis for better
understanding of how to research sites. Maybe it doesn't need stating,
but in the "theory of the practitioner", the theory of "just doing
things" which is what archaeology tries to understand ... i.e. the
ordinary pattern of the past ... if experience is important in the here
and now, it is important in the past.
.....

Which brings me to the question ... if anyone understands what I'm
talking about and could tell me where to find/thinking work along
similar lines, I would be very very pleased to receive any references or
suggestions for reading.

Mike

________________________________


Help protect our environment by only printing this email if absolutely necessary. The information it contains and any files transmitted with it are confidential and are only intended for the person or organisation to whom it is addressed. It may be unlawful for you to use, share or copy the information, if you are not authorised to do so. If you receive this email by mistake, please inform the person who sent it at the above address and then delete the email from your system. Durham County Council takes reasonable precautions to ensure that its emails are virus free. However, we do not accept responsibility for any losses incurred as a result of viruses we might transmit and recommend that you should use your own virus checking procedures.

Top of Message | Previous Page | Permalink

JiscMail Tools


RSS Feeds and Sharing


Advanced Options


Archives

July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
October 2001
September 2001
August 2001
July 2001
June 2001
May 2001
April 2001
March 2001
February 2001
January 2001
December 2000
November 2000
October 2000
September 2000
August 2000
July 2000
June 2000
May 2000
April 2000
March 2000
February 2000
January 2000
December 1999
November 1999
October 1999
September 1999
August 1999
July 1999
June 1999
May 1999
April 1999
March 1999
February 1999
January 1999
December 1998
November 1998
October 1998
September 1998
August 1998
July 1998
June 1998
May 1998


JiscMail is a Jisc service.

View our service policies at https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/policyandsecurity/ and Jisc's privacy policy at https://www.jisc.ac.uk/website/privacy-notice

Secured by F-Secure Anti-Virus CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager