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Sensible Archaeology?
It is not unhelpful to consider the 'Gentleman Scholar' - or more precisely the origins and conduct of Enlightenment Sciences & Humanities.

The Natural Philosopher - the role of Observation and Collation of obscure data - the concept of an abstract 'worth' of research - the broad understandings needed for the tiniest of focuses - creative theorising beyond accepted fact.

More than most, archaeological disciplines - and especially excavation - inherits these traditions directly - rarely is excavation dependent on 'deep' 21st c. technology, or even on 20th c innovation, but rather relies on the most fundemental techniques of natural science - observation and documentation.

This is not a 'mechanical' or fully objective process - (and was never really claimed as such) - it can only be partially delegated (and only to the most attentive of Monkeys....)

Instead, this seemingly dull enterprise (catagorising a fly, collecting whale poo, sifting ash and bone) is merely a visor, procting the viewer from the blinding light of life's complexity - a means to free the mind from the maelstrom and let it settle upon something that can be called fact.

Thus grounded the individual must survey the intellectual landscape of Knowledge to understand their own location - their own observations are not sufficient.

Triangulated, the intellect is satisfied, and able to float through this cultural construct, transcending the Immediate and embracing Existence.

Reductive views of fieldwork are Unhelpfull - philosophically and scientifically informed conceptions of the enterprise and methods can not hurt.

The 'Gentleman Scholar' is defined by his private funding (though this was not always the case) - in short, in absence of any other funds, who else will instigate any archaeology at all?
Wax Wrote:is theory another means for an archaeological elite to spout unintelligible rubbish that has little meaning at the coal face?
Theory should not be unintelligible and it is for all archaeologists, not just for an elite of ivory tower scholars. I wrote before that you apply theory every day of your working life, whether you know it or not. The moment you start interpreting you are applying theory. It might be as simple as a comment that a pot resembles a modern vessel and the circumstances of its discovery support the view that the pot had an equivalent function when it was in use. That is still an application of a theoretical approach. I do think that the pressures of commercial archaeology discourage experimental application of theories, because there is no time or money for them, but that is not the case for other theoretical approaches. The key here, as has been mentioned earlier, is that the theory does not have to be written into the report, but is applied at the interpretive stage. It seems to me that many are applying too narrow a definition of theory throughout this discussion. I prefer to think of 'theory' as being the methodology you apply to interpret the data. It could be a purely functional theoretical approach, or it could draw on the latest developments in cognitive science and adopt a fully multi-disciplinary approach. Either way, it is still the application of theory.

Quote:Is archaeology going to go back to being the domain of the gentlemen (idle rich) scholar?xx(
If it is, then I wish to be one of those rich scholars. Cool
'Reality,' sa molesworth 2, 'is so unspeakably sordid it make me shudder.'
unfortunately the con-dems are likely make it harder, as 'Gentle-person Scholars' (rather than the true aristocrats) are further squeezed ... (or do I mean the middle classes?)
AS a gentleman Scholar adventurer.. I am worreid about the squeeze, though I do have to say, I have been taking in papers and discussions on the types of material and features found on our site. WE do talk about it... but the time angle is so tight now... to sit back and discuss is seen as wasting time... rather than useful skills that allow better all round excavation of features. WE do ok on the site I am on... and as I am now outed! ( yes I hid as a digger for some weeks- before being unmasked) I can say that the diggers I work with are interested. Indeed Matt " the FEature Dominator!" is doing just what we should do... understand it - without forcing it to be what we want. And We are dealing with extreme archaeology - it has been a hell of a long time since I dealt with such varied archaeology... and archaeology that is never what you think it will be... real testing stuff...

To show you how we think about it... here is a reconstruction I knocked up, to aid discussion...


We also think of cake! Please Slim!
Unitof1 Wrote:-vulpes

what would you suggest was the correct negative rate?

Yes, I'd like to second that - you claiming you don't deal with hundreds of duff watching briefs every year, and if not, why not tell all those other curators how to avoid them? ....unless of course you'd like to come back to your ludicrous claim that most archaeological output is aimed at the public?

....errr, you are a real curator aren't you.... }Smile
it IS aimed at the public - via a developers responibility to document destructive activities effecting (ulimatley) public heritage - client reports are a stage in the process...
And wow are they fun to read... of course I only ever do ones with stuff! Wink

or here

if you are remotely interested Wink
just to draw things back towards sensible archaeology and away from commercial archaeological reports a moment: what ever happened to the Batsford/EH series of the 90s or indeed those fantastic Thames & Hudson edited by Glyn Daniel of the 50s-70s. those were popular intelligent overviews of subjects, which despite the attempts of Tempus to step into the gap, are missing
or maybe i am not going to the right bookshops... but certainly Blackwells in Oxford is quite depressing in its lack of popular British archaeology books
Quote:[SIZE=3]most archaeological output is aimed at the public?

I think that most negative archaeology was aimed at the map. Curators leaped into the management of their time with lets have a number of conditions per planning application per area. The watching brief without evaluation was a boon to this lazy and blind job justification. I have no problem with it except that there shouldn?t be any paperwork unless the visiting archaeologist feels the necessity.

Hence my original contribution to sensible archaeology from a commercial view point page 1

Quote:[SIZE=3]i kinda agree with not filling in the context sheet.

As for Daniels

Quote:[SIZE=3]The problem in archaeology is when to stop laughing.
possibly something to do with fake helmets
Reason: your past is my past
"The watching brief without evaluation was a boon to this lazy and blind job justification. I have no problem with it except that there shouldn’t be any paperwork unless the visiting archaeologist feels the necessity."

What utter nonsense!!!

to know where something is, it is helpful to know where it is not.

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