The Science of Archaeology

by Ken Dark

The philosophy of history is a long established field, but the philosophy of archaeology (the study of the past through its material rather than written remains) is largely a product of the ‘new archaeology’ revolution in archaeological thought in the 1960s. It was central tenet of the ‘new archaeology’ that the subject is a science, in the same sense as physics or biology.

Archaeology is undeniably multi-faceted. Scholars in this field employ laboratory-based physical, chemical, and biological analyses, alongside those derived from art-history, and other arts subjects. To some scholars, such as Lewis Binford, a leading American archaeologist, this discipline is certainly a science, despite the overlap with arts techniques.

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