Archaeological theory refers to the various intellectual frameworks through which archaeologists interpret archaeological data. There is no one singular theory of archaeology, but many, with different archaeologists believing that information should be interpreted in different ways. Throughout the history of the discipline, various trends of support for certain archaeological theories have emerged, peaked, and in some cases died out. Different archaeological theories differ on what the goals of the discipline are and how they can be achieved.
Some archaeological theories, such as processual archaeology, holds that archaeologists are able to develop accurate, objective information about past societies by applying the scientific method to their investigations, whilst others, such as post-processual archaeology, dispute this, and claim that all archaeological data is tainted by human interpretation and social factors, and that any interpretation that they make about past societies is therefore subjective.
Other archaeological theories, such as Marxist archaeology, instead interpret archaeological evidence within a framework for how its proponents believe society operates and evolves. Marxist archaeologists in general believe that the bipolarism that exists between the processual and post-processual debates is an opposition inherent within knowledge production and is in accord with a dialectical understanding of the world. Many Marxists archaeologists believe that it is this polarism within the anthropological discipline (and all academic disciplines) that fuels the questions that spur progress in archaeological theory and knowledge. This constant interfacing and conflict between the extremes of the two heuristic playing grounds (subjective vs. objective) is believed to result in a continuous reconstruction of the past by scholars.
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... There is no one singular approach to archaeological theory that has been adhered to by all archaeologists ... late 19th century, the first approach to archaeological theory to be practiced was that of cultural-history archaeology, which held the goal of explaining why ... In the 1960s, an archaeological movement largely led by American archaeologists like Lewis Binford and Kent Flannery arose that rebelled against the established cultural-history ...
... Some used the "Great Ages" theory implicit in the three-age system to argue continuous upward progress by Western civilisation ... evolutionary thought, phenomenology, postmodernism, agency theory, cognitive science, functionalism, gender-based and Feminist archaeology and Systems theory ...
Famous quotes containing the word theory:
“In the theory of gender I began from zero. There is no masculine power or privilege I did not covet. But slowly, step by step, decade by decade, I was forced to acknowledge that even a woman of abnormal will cannot escape her hormonal identity.”
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