Relationship between historians and archaeologists tools

relationship between historians and archaeologists tools

archaeology alone: What is it that the classical historian ought to be asking of . and despite their generation by?and partial correlation with?for mer social and . all other respects left with no tools of analysis other than those in herited from. In a way, studying the distant past through archaeology is a prognostic tool to predict future The Institute at Princeton incorporated (and still does) historians, poets, social .. But, in relation with third world discussions, here some examples . Moreover, this division between history and archaeology naturalizes modern of the relationship between written and artifactual evidence, historians simply have Artifacts were seen as the tools by which humans maintain stability within the.

This is evident in the following evidences. Specific archaeological findings expand existing historical reconstructions. They require a re-evaluation of such reconstruction or they allow reconstructions to be made for periods for which there was hitherto insufficient evidence.

For example, in western part of the western Sudan new findings concerning the long 1st millennium A. D are leading to a complete re-evaluation of the previously accepted historical reconstruction for that. Until recently very little was known about the 1st three quarter of the period ,apart from the gradual growth of walled town at Jenne-Jeno. Recently that situation has changed dramatically.

First, Jan Vansina narrates, there was the discovery of an impressive necropolis at Asindasikka Bura in Niger, which was in use at sometimes between and A. This site contained some large figurative ceramics. It is evident that the society which used this necropolis was complex and rich.

All of this comes as a total surprise to the historian.


The book narrated about laws, money, animals, vegetable, andminerals. Buthe wondered about their origins. He chose an earth-work near the Rivanna River a small mound that was repository of the dead.

In his slave dug a perpendicular trench through human the tumulus. He recorded layers of human bones at different depths, lying in complete confusion. This is how archaeology and history relate to each other. Unfortunately their differences seem to be immense and noticeable. This is because archaeology is considered both as a science as well as humanity.

The following are the differences between archaeology and history; Archaeology is considered to more scientific than humanistic.

Archaeology - Wikipedia

This is because the methods used follow scientific procedures like any other scientific field. But, according to Paul Bahn the objects that archaeologists discover on the other hand, tell us nothing directly in themselves.

It is we today who have to make sense of these things. In this respect the practice of archaeology is rather like that of the scientist. Archaeology uses methods like written documents,oral history and surveying. Some scholars like Jim Grant,Sam Gorin,and Neil Fleming have proposed four methods of locating archaeological sites that include Desktop study,surface survey,geophysical or geochemical survey and Aerial survey Jim Grant etal p.

The physical evidence or cultural phenomenon studied by archaeologists are of three forms the first is artifacts which include portable objects made or modified by humans. For example stone tools, pottery,metal implements,and bone points. The second is Ecofacts or Biofacts and this entail non artifactual material remains not directly created or modified by humans.

For example remnants of humans, animals and plant species. For example buildings, pits, pot holes, and cemeteries.

Discuss the contention; Historians, and archaeologists are siblings ~ goodsaria

Another difference bases on scope or coverage. History is generally concerned with human history of the period from the beginning of written records B. Unlike history ,archaeology covers the period from the beginning of human culture 2.

relationship between historians and archaeologists tools

This is evidenced in the new excavations that discover informationof many million years ago. According to Henry Koerper and Nancy A. This artifact has been donated to the mission San Juan Capistrano Museum. PauLLangen Walter identified this specimen as an element of the hind limb of black tailed deer odocoileushemionus. It weighs 17 grams and the length is The width measures There is evidence that piece received some heat treatment, possiblyto harden the bone HenryC.

The focus of both disciplines defines their divergence. History focuses on literate and richest community. In other words it is influenced by high and middle classes that include kings, queens, priests and prominentscholars.

But archaeology is less bias. In archaeology we are certainly interested in having clear picture of how people lived, and how they exploited their environments. It is a tendency in every human cultural society to have manners of eating, makingthings, discard trash and ultimately dying and thus every one contributes to archaeological record.

A good example is on the recent excavation done in Africa. According to Brian M,Fagan, Africa occupies a unique place in the world pre-history. Its archaeological sequence is of unappalled length for the reason that it was certainly or almost in this continent that hominides and their distinctive behavior first evolved.

According to him discoveriesrelating to the prior periods of human activity have been done in eastern Africa coveringareas of Ethiopia, South of Tanzania, and on South of Africa. He gives an example that microlithic industries were the work of people who were fully modern in the anatomical sense and they are known as Homosapienssapiens.

It is therefore important that the oldest known fossils generally accepted as being of this type come from sites in SouthAfrica, where they seem to date to aboutyears ago.

These are believed to be the most ancient remains of fully modern people anywhere in the world, and they support genetic evidence that it may have been in sub-Saharan Africa that Homosapiens sapiens first developed Brian M. Another difference lies on expensivity.

Archaeology is relatively more expensive compared to history. This comprises aspects of methodologies and preservation measures.

relationship between historians and archaeologists tools

Archaeology uses methods like surveying with sampling strategies which is not only costful but also time consuming. The tools used also are expensive like the probes ,trowel,compass direction,GPS,magnetometer ,Dustpan sample bags,First aid kit,Photo board,aluminum oil and Telescope. Apart from tools and methodologies, archaeological findings need greater care on their preservation.

LHamilton, artifacts preservation is one of the most important consideration when planning or implementing any action that will result in recovery of material from a marine archaeological site. It is the responsibility of the excavator or salver to see that the material recovered is properly conserved.

He adds that the excavation period is time consuming and expensive often costing more than the original excavation Donny L. Indeed, ethnicity appears to have been a situational construct that was important within relationships of power and politics. The elite and their interests were most likely to have been the subjects, benefactors, and consumers of the written works in which ethnic labels were recorded.

Because of the centrality of the documentary records in the ongoing activities of church and stateit is impossible to consider any aspect of the early medieval period without acknowledging the power of the written word in our current appreciation of these institutions. Without such awareness, the social, economic, and political organization of the past becomes evidence of evolutionary developments extending from the early medieval period to the modern day.

This deterministic presentation of "progress" legitimizes the authority of those powers whose past is recorded and affords modern interests an opportunity to incorporate the legitimacy of a mythic past in the pursuit of their own objectives. The historiography of the early medieval period cannot be separated from Europe's own self-conception, as current political concerns have unconsciously guided interpretations of the past.

relationship between historians and archaeologists tools

For example, beginning in the nineteenth century, archaeology presented Europe as the cultural product of conquest and colonization, mirroring the European imperialist experience in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. By the s, this association with militaristic expansionism was superseded by complex processual models.

Today, in an environment of individualism and nation building, interpretations emphasizing human agency and cultural identity are evoked. Textual sources during this period include heroic literature, annals, histories and chronicles, saint's lives, charters, wills, pedigrees and genealogies, and laws.

Discontinuous in their creation and episodic in their narrative of time and space, documents traditionally have been considered permanent records intended for present and future audiences. In contrast, archaeological information, characterized as cumulative and continuously created, informs on relations and situations in the past. Categories of archaeological data include the excavated remains of settlements, burials, and earthworks, field surveys, and supporting data from specialist analyses e.

Underscoring the importance of the written link between the documentary and archaeological records are inscribed objects. These textual artifacts, such as coins carrying the name and place of the authority under whom they were minted and personal items inscribed with the name of the individual who made, commissioned, or owned the object, occasionally are encountered in contexts associated with nonliterate peoples.

It cannot be assumed that the content of the inscription necessarily was understood by those using these objects.

The symbolic authority of the written word, however, must have been generally appreciated, as meaningless characters sometimes appear on objects, such as precious metal bracteates, fabricated by nonliterate people.

Moreover, the prestige vested in the written word is emphasized by the fact that the members of the elite would have been most likely to have had the resources and relationships necessary to acquire and distribute these valuable goods. Critical theory has led scholars to understand that the past is a cultural construction and that historians and archaeologists, as well as their source materials, are constrained by biases. The historical records were not created to address the questions that modern scholars pose.

Intentional and unintentional biases arise between the situations in which documents were originally created and have been subsequently interpreted. At a fundamental level are errors of translation, as the lack of equivalency in one language can lead to misrepresentation in another. Moreover, the written records often were drafted many years after the events that they describe or, in the case of oral traditions, after the original work was composed.

As a consequence, these written works may reflect the political geography and relationships of the time of transcription rather than the period of creation.

Most Incredible Archaeological Finds

Not all records from a particular time and place have been preserved, so the picture presented from a reading of the available documents can never be considered complete or even representative. Indeed, early medieval authors were selective in their choice of subjects, often omitting entire categories of people, such as the young, the impoverished, or the disabled, from meaningful mention. The resulting historical narrative often lacks any structure beyond that of chronology, as the events described occur at irregular intervals and are of unknown relative significance.

Without mediation between these two sources of information, our understanding of the archaeological or textual evidence is constrained. For example, the Beowulf poem, written down in the eighth century or later, has been used by archaeologists to identify and interpret objects, such as the helmet and standard found in the elite seventh-century ship burial at Sutton Hoo Suffolk, England.

Although the poem and the burial generally are thought to be separated chronologically by at least one century, scholars often treat them as contemporaneous. Moreover, similarities between the literary and archaeological material have been employed to derive the date of the heroic Beowulf poem and to guide its translation toward language and concepts framed by the finds at Sutton Hoo.

By viewing the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf and the Sutton Hoo burial as mirrors of each other, we limit our understanding of each in its own right.


At the same time, early medieval archaeologists ignore the epistemological implication of this cultural connection across centuries: Is it appropriate—and, if so, under what conditions—to assume a cultural connection from historically documented times into the prehistoric past?

Often, little rigor is exercised in assessing the appropriateness of the analogy drawn. This procedure, called by North American archaeologists the "direct historical approach," effectively decontextualizes the past, thereby subjecting it to anachronistic interpretation and obscuring its specific social meaning. The discipline of history or archaeology is seen by some practitioners in the other field as a fertile source of comparative material to illustrate or interpret research concerns within their own discipline.

In the most intellectually arid conception of the relationship between written and artifactual evidence, historians simply have grafted archaeological facts onto a historical framework, and archaeologists have substantiated their findings by drawing facts from the documentary record.

Throughout study of the early medieval period, archaeology has been used to illuminate areas of research largely ignored by the written texts, such as technology and economy.

The intellectual conversation between the two disciplines has been characterized as a monologue, as some historians consider archaeology to be irrelevant or overly theoretical. Scholars in both fields complain that in making use of the historian's toolkit, archaeologists demonstrate a limited understanding of the nature of historical inquiry and are unable to keep pace with philosophical and theoretical changes in the historical discipline.

Anthropologically related historical approaches that mirror work done by post-processual archaeologists in other parts of the world, such as historical analyses that focus on the cultural construction of language and on the ways in which culture creates, fosters, and challenges inequalities, are largely ignored by those working in the early medieval period. Using history to frame archaeological questions risks the production of tautologies, or circular arguments.

For example, burials found in an area and at a time known from documents to have been inhabited by a certain tribal group generally are deemed to represent the population group. In early medieval England, this unreflective ethnic ascription of cemeteries as Anglo-Saxon has raised critical questions about how Celtic and Germanic ethnic identity was conceived, if at all, by those living in the fourth to seventh centuries and what the cemetery evidence indicates about the fate of the indigenous British population during this time.

During the first half of the twentieth century, Anglo-Saxon archaeologists, such as J. Leeds, fashioned an early medieval archaeology that privileged the historical record. Archaeological finds were organized within chronological and typological schema, which were related, in turn, to events, such as battles, and accounts of great men detailed in historical documents.

Into the s and s, archaeological data were viewed as more objective and reliable than historical sources, because it was argued that archaeology produced deposits that were unconsciously created and lacked intentionally communicated messages. Artifacts were seen as the tools by which humans maintain stability within the natural and social environment.

Following the positivistic philosophy prevailing in the "New Archaeology" movement at that time, archaeology was positioned as a natural science against which subjective historical facts could be tested. In the s, however, archaeologists began to complain that historical interests framed the agenda, modes of analysis, and language of archaeological inquiry.

As a consequence, it was argued, archaeological research should be guided by its own theoretical premises and executed independently of the historical sources. Rather than chronicling past events of traditional narrative history, with its focus on the elite, the "new medieval archaeology" sought to explicate the social processes affecting the daily lives of the wider population. The "new medieval archaeology" was itself criticized, however, for conceptualizing change as an adaptive response to external systemic stimuli, thereby denying individual agency and ignoring the discursive relationship between human actions and the structures that they produce.

Instead, it was argued that artifacts must be assessed in context, both as the products of actions and as the active agents by which social relations are identified, subverted, and transformed. Particularly in the United Kingdom and Scandinavia, this reassessment of the relationship between history and archaeology revitalized medieval studies. Inspired by anthropologically oriented historians, such as those engaged in the French Annales school, which examined the long-term structures of social and economic history, and by the theoretical agendas of anthropologically trained North American archaeologists, new research cut across traditional disciplinary boundaries and sources to investigate thematic concerns, such as gender, power relations, and cultural identity.

The work of historical archaeologists in the United States was invoked further to demonstrate that the distinction between artifacts and texts is cultural rather than natural. Some archaeologists emphasized that in the same way that historians approach documents, artifacts can be "read," because both sources are components of material culture formed by the imposition of human action on nature.

This position considers texts and artifacts equally as the products of thoughtful human action that contain social meaning and are the means by which social relations are articulated and negotiated.

Rather than playing a passive role, as labels or markers, artifacts and documents were utilized in the past as expressive media. Written texts, therefore, are fundamentally artifacts and, as such, are not privileged over other forms of material culture in the interpretation of the past.