Research topic: Archaeological theory and method

Archaeologists share an interest in the material remains left by past human activity. Theoretical insights come from a number of disciplines within the humanities and social and natural sciences.

In recent decades this interdisciplinary perspective has contributed to the development of a wide spectrum of methods for recording, excavating and analysing material culture and the landscape. Archaeologists' field of operations is changing constantly and traditional working methods have been supplemented with digital tools.

This development has been the result of interdisciplinary collaboration regarding the application of dating techniques, laboratory analyses, databases and geographical information systems (GIS). There are also obvious close connections to theories in the humanities and social sciences, perhaps particularly with regard to an emphasis on the researcher's socio-political context, ethics and the multicultural expressions of the past.

Today's situation can be understood in the light of the history of the field. Since the 1950s, when questions were first raised regarding the prevailing theories of cultural-historical archaeology, the field has been dominated by the social archaeology project, with its focus on explaining and understanding social processes. This initially took the form of processual archaeology, which was influenced by theories and methods used in the natural sciences.

Since the early 1980s, post-processual archaeology has taken over as the dominant approach, with a theoretical basis that is far more open to relativity and diversity. In recent years, however, critical questions have also been raised concerning aspects of social archaeology and we have seen a renewed interest in collaboration across the old divides between the social and the natural sciences.

Research projects

Archaeology of Dwelling: The dynamics between house and society in prehistoric Scandinavia

 

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Published Feb. 8, 2013 12:40 PM - Last modified Apr. 12, 2016 10:30 AM