By Anders Andrén
This e-book is ready ancient archaeologies around the world; approximately their historical past, their equipment, and their raison d'etre. the point of interest is on an existential query for archaeology: even if investigations of mate rial tradition are important in any respect whilst learning societies with writing. Is it now not adequate to learn and interpret texts if we want to comprehend and clarify old sessions? This ebook has been written out of a conviction that archaeology is necessary, even within the research of literate societies. but the publication has additionally been written out of a conviction that the significance of the historic archaeologies isn't seen to every body. The disciplines tend to be marginalized in relation either to background and to archaeology and anthropology, as the archaeologi cal effects are often perceived as pointless confirmations of what's already identified. even though I regard theoretical concerns as the most important for all scholarly paintings, i don't imagine that the answer to this marginalization are available in any "definitive" concept that may increase the disciplines above the threatened tautology. as a substitute, i've got came across it extra vital to ascertain varied methodological ways within the old archaeologies, to enquire how fabric tradition and writ ing can and will be built-in. i'm confident that the tautological chance might be avoided within the real stumble upon of artifact and textual content. by means of problematizing this come upon, i think that it truly is attainable to create favorable methodological stipulations for brand new views at the past.
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Additional info for Between Artifacts and Texts: Historical Archaeology in Global Perspective
The specialities were created out of an ambiguous European interest in the Middle East. On the one hand, the area was seen as the ultimate source ofEuropean civilization, not least as regards art and the biblical tradition. On the other hand, the area represented an unchanging "oriental" despotism and decadence, which many Europeans repudiated, partly as a projection of the opposition between Christianity and Islam. This construction of the unalterably different Orient was the antithesis of the contemporary idea of the ever-changing, dynamic Europe (Said, 1978).
Although Snodgrass asserts the intrinsic value of artifacts, he calls for a critical attitude among archaeologists to their own source material. He warns of "the positivist fallacy," the belief that what is immediately visible is also immediately important. He criticizes students of pottery, in particular, for their "grotesque" exaggeration of the commercial significance of ceramics (Snodgrass, 1983, 1985a, 1985b, 1987; cf. Vickers, 1990). Philippe Bruneau (1974) likewise stresses the basic differences between artifact and text, but he sees the background more in their different relations to scholarly narrative, which is always in the form of text.
She is critical of the often unspoken dependence on texts that she sees in Roman archaeology. She also points out that texts are material culture and, like artifacts, must be interpreted in relation to the social and symbolic contexts of the times when they were produced. A crucial factor for the character of Roman archaeology is that Roman texts cannot be regarded as representative ofthe empire as a whole. Archaeology could help to emphasize the "otherness" of the Roman Empire, that is, the parts of the empire that are unknown or alien to us.