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3/11/2011

AN305 Archaeological method and theory

“Archeology is anthropology or it is nothing.” While This quote is certainly a compelling


transition used by Kelly and Thomas, it is also been trimmed to fir their topic the entire quote is “New
World Archeology nothing if not Anthropology or it is nothing.”[1] This Quote was later revised to
“American archaeology is anthropology or it is nothing.”[2] This is a world of difference in how you can
infer what his true meaning was. On the first hand it lumps all archeology together and says that even
through we do not directly interact with a lot of live or recently live people does not mean we are any
less of a humanistic field. The latter would could be inferred that New World Archeology is some how
more humanistic than Old World Archeology.

If we are to assume the quote worked the way they want it to instead of the way it was written
for the sake of argument. While there is merit in this in a hippie “we're all one people” sort of way.
However, this is due mostly to the fact that we are shackled by the bonds of cultural anthropology and
linguistics. These subfields are distinctly humanities material. Archeology and Physical Anthropology
are more closely related to a natural science.

On the other side of the coin we have the saying “Archeology is Archeology is Archeology.”
while this was uncredited on the handout, the originator of this one is David Clarke from his 1968 book
Analytical Archaeology.[3] This is to say that archeology is not a social science that it is a natural
science, real quantifiable science. I think this is closer to a more streamline approach to Anthropology.
While Archeology does not need to be separated from anthropology. In fact with the number of years
that the field of Anthropology has existed you could find numerous examples for both sides and that I
believe is not really disputed.

I feel that both systems desribed above are wrong, the future of anthropology is bright but only
through a reorganization of the entire field. Anthropology should be separated into first 2 groups Hard
Anthropology and Soft Anthropology. Hard Anthropology would consist of Archeology and Physical
Anthropology. Soft Anthropology would consist of Cultural Anthropology and Social Anthropology. Hard
Anthropology would be given Bachelors in Science instead of the Bachelors of Arts. Soft Anthropology
would still be given a Bachelors in Arts. The Field of Anthropology would become a unifying sur-type
but would no longer contribute to the overall program.

The Hierarchy described above may seem outlandish however, Anthropology has grown an
incredible amount since the original system was put in place. Trying to learn it all no longer prepares
us fully for a graduate level specialization. Specialization should begin in the undergraduate level.

Note to Dr. Earp: I did understand the point of the assignment was for us to show you that we
understand what makes archaeology unique but still part of the field of anthropology. However, I feel
that the model currently held in the mainstream system is one that will not work with the increasing
amount of information gathered and the broad scope of everything humanity thinks does and makes to
create our culture.
[1]Phillips, P. 1955. American archaeology and general anthropological theory. Southwestern Journal
of Anthropology 11: 246-250.

[2]Willey, G.R. and P. Phillips. 1958. Method and Theory in American Archaeology. Chicago: University
of Chicago Press.

[3]Clarke, David L. (1968). Analytical Archaeology. Methuen. ISBN 0-416-42850-9.

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