Archaeology [Greek: archaiologia = ancient history] A relatively new science concerned with the excavation and analysis of artifacts, texts, structures and organic material (such as skeletons) from past civilizations.
The birth of archaeology is often associated with J. J. Winckelmann’s Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums (History of Ancient Art), published in 1764.
Carbon dating is often upheld as the miracle tool that helps to pinpoint precise dates for discovered objects.
But the accuracy of carbon dating is debated. Almost all agree that the further back we go, the less precise carbon dating becomes.
Others suggest that results can sometimes be misleading due to the hoarding and thus biased interpretation of artifacts and, in some cases, an overzealous desire to advance a career by ‘proving’ a pet theory.
International politics and profit incentives may also come into play with archaeology as ancient remnants are often found in poor, politically sensitive, volatile and even war-torn nations. And local politicians are usually required to authorize certificates for archaeological materials to be investigated or released from a site, which sometimes can slow things down.
The term archaeology was also used by Sigmund Freud. Freud employed the image of an ancient city to portray the relation between the unconscious and the ego (i.e. consciousness).
The French poststructuralist Michel Foucault used the metaphor of archaeology quite loosely to suggest the possibility of ideologically ‘buried’ forms of knowledge.
Foucault’s use of archaeology does not refer to questions like: “Did aliens build the pyramids?” or “What was the location of ancient Atlantis?” Rather, it deals with reconstructing a network of connections, assumptions, expectations, techniques, values and beliefs assumed to exist in a given historical moment.
Foucault’s archaeological metaphor is directly applied to the historical text, which he calls an “open site.” The notion of an open site suggests that the task of reconstructing historical meaning from texts is necessarily incomplete. » Anthropology
Resized “Practical Archaeology Course 8″ by Wessex Archaeology http://www.flickr.com/photos/wessexarchaeology/2036659707/, Creative Commons License
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Posted on March 29, 2008, in A and tagged Aliens, anthropology, archaeology, atlantis, Carbon Dating, education, ETs, Foucault, freud, history, michel foucault, postmodern, postmodernism, poststructuralism. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.