I think whether or not a site is "industrial" depends on a number of factors.
The site must be primarily concerned with an industrial process (mining, iron
making, tanning, etc.). It must also be industrial in scale. We are talking
more than a couple of small buildings and areas measured in square kilometers,
not meters. All too often archeologists (notice the lack of an a in the word),
mistakenly identify craft or cottage industries as "industrial". There is a
substantial difference between a 2 fire blacksmithy and a blast furnace. To
truely be "industrial" the scale of the activity should be industrial.
I'm not sure that I would agree with Bea on classifying a 4th millenium BC salt
production site as industrial. Did it cover acres, involve lots of people,
leave heaps of industrial waste, or substantially alter the landscape? If not
then it is probably not industrial. Yes it produced a product, but so does a
shoemaker, wheelwright, or cooper. Should these be classed as industrial?
A problem we have here in the US is a marked "domestic" bias at our colleges and
universities. Most of the sites excavated are domestic, so most of the corpus
of information is domestic and the preponderance of the training is on domestic
archaeology. As a result many archaeologists in the US do not have the
background necesary to properly address an industrial site. A recent eggregious
example of this was a talk given at a conference I attended. The site was a
company town built specifically to to support an industry. When the industry
closed the town died. The speaker spent the entire talk discussing the domstic
structures and dismissed the industrial ones as "ancillary".
I have just submitted the draft of my MA thesis on the colonial blast furnaces
of Virginia. During my research I found numerous examples of researchers
reaching false conclusions because they never bothered to find out how iron was
made. You can't do "industrial archaeology" without understanding at least the
basics of the process.
I do agree that industrial archaeology should not be defined as a specific time
period. I think this is due to confusing the "Industrial Revolution" and
industrial archaeology. There were industrial sites before the Industrial
Revolution. Industrial archaeology should be thematic, not tied to a time
JH Brothers IV
Bea Hopkinson wrote:
> I have always classified my own work as 'industrial archaeology' -
> that is, that part of my studies that relates to an ancient organized
> salt industry traceable to the 4th millenium BC in Mesopotamian and 1000
> BC in the UK. When this same industry continues into the historic period
> i.e. the Roman and mediaeval period I refer to it as a 'mediaeval
> industry' for which we do have archaeological remains, and thus is still
> 'industrial archaeology'. At the same time I have also referred to it as
> 'a historically ancient industry' because of the historic texts that
> relate to the site.
> In my mind the above can correctly be described as 'industrial
> archaeology' differentiated from the modern understanding of terms like
> 'industry' or 'industrial revolution' or the socio-ecomic aspects of the
> latter. If there is ressurrection of such modern sites in an
> archaeological sense then why not just say 19th century or 20th century
> industrial remains