By Andrew Jones

Modern archaeology is polarized among the technically powerfuble excavators, who've subtle methods of recording, reading, classifying and describing their websites, and the social theorists, encouraged via sceptical sociologies in technology and cultural reports. This booklet defines the contours of every faction and argues that clash among their goals and approaches is mindless. Andrew Jones as an alternative emphasizes the method of interpretations, that is, in his view, the genuine situation of archaeologists.

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Extra resources for Archaeological Theory and Scientific Practice (Topics in Contemporary Archaeology)

Sample text

Barthes (1977) notes the problem, common to the study and interpretation of cultural signs, that there is an interpretative distance between author and reader. Due to this interpretative distance, the validity of an interpretation is bound up as much with the expectations of the reader as with what the author wished to express (Ricoeur 1981, 131–45). Therefore, rather than searching for the underlying ‘real’ archaeological record, those archaeologists adopting a textual view of archaeology are interpreting the record at a distance; the interpretation of the archaeologist in the present is as valid as the meaning attached to the object in the past.

We can now observe that the distinction between objects and subjects has become less rigid, and we are therefore in a better position to assess the way in which scientific practices interlock with the interpretative practices of social science. We can side-step the problem of retaining a rationalist core of knowledge onto which cultural specific understandings are constructed. By doing this we are able to re-evaluate the positions of rationalism and relativism. Rationalism can be seen to be a product of the series of associations that go to make up scientific practice, especially the process of transformation and the setting up of associations into networks.

Instead, I take them as read; I ‘black-box’ them. We can observe from this example that prior factual information is tied together to make a seamless whole. It is this process of tying information together which allows scientists to proceed with the creation of more facts. It is this process of tying information together which we may describe as a network, and it is to the working of such networks that I will turn next. It is important to realise that networks are not just made up of facts and instruments that articulate together in order to create a seamless working whole.

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