William R. Caraher and David K. Pettegrew
Since the Renaissance, archaeology has played a significant albeit changing role in illuminating the history of early Christianity. This chapter surveys different historical approaches to archaeological investigations of Christianity, from early efforts to authenticate or disprove the traditions and practices of the Catholic church to the development of the field of early Christian archaeology in continental Europe and through to more recent efforts to reconstruct the social and economic contexts of early Christian sites and landscapes between the first and eighth centuries. This chapter offers a state of the field, highlighting the positive achievements of archaeologists over the last two centuries and drawing attention to problems of method, interpretation, and approach that modern scholars are working to correct. It recommends repositioning the field within the disciplinary framework of archaeology itself while also encouraging fruitful interdisciplinary conversation.
Phenomenology and hermeneutics were hugely influential methodologically in 20th-century European philosophy. They were also taken up in the human sciences more generally, but only relatively recently (from the 1980s on) incorporated into archaeological theory. Phenomenology emphasizes the human subjective and intersubjective encounter with landscape, nature, artefacts, and the whole ‘life-world’. Beginning from the careful description of life in the everyday, contemporary world, attentive to the shape of time, space, history, and culture in that world, phenomenology can also disclose aspects about the material worlds of past cultures, describing the embodied encounters of people with landscapes, monuments, and artefacts from the past.
Filipe Carreira da Silva and Patrick Baert
In this chapter, we discuss the relationship between the tradition of American philosophical pragmatism and contemporary archaeological theory. Our focus is on the work of G.H. Mead, whose social pragmatism has played an important role in the recent neo-pragmatist revival. We begin by explaining the reasons for the highly selective appropriation of his ideas in sociology. We then suggest an alternative reading of Mead. This alternative reading explores two fundamental categories in Mead’s thinking: his conception of agency and his theory of objects. We conclude by showing the fruitful intersections between these two aspects of Mead’s work and recent post-processual archaeology.
Studies of collecting and fieldwork in the disciplines of archaeology and socio-cultural anthropology are relatively undeveloped, but in the last decade there has been a noticeable rise in interest as part of a broader reflexivity in the practices of these and related disciplines. Collecting, studied from a psychological perspective has a longer history, especially through Freudian interpretations that linked it with the anal retentive stage, thus associating it with certain personality traits. However, as part of a wider discourse, it is a fairly recent topic of investigation and has been generally approached either in the context of consumer research or more commonly, museum studies. This article traces the consequences of fieldwork and ways of interpreting the same. This distinction shares a similar focus on retrieving and collecting material culture. This article further discusses the status of fieldwork as it is today with special reference to anthropology and archaeology.
Integrating Geoarchaeology with Archaeology for Interdisciplinary Understanding of Societal–Environmental Relations
Karl W. Butzer
Despite an early growth of interest in archaeological problems by the science community, systematic application of earth science in a major field project during the 1920s was not directly followed up. But by 1960 environmental archaeology had become a focus of problem formulation, experimentation, and innovation, thanks to excavations led by both Classical and Anthropological archaeologists. Adequate professional training did not follow, given disciplinary hurdles and funding traps, so that geoarchaeology remained a multidisciplinary goal rather than an interdisciplinary commitment. This chapter lays out how the methods of geoarchaeology can be applied to retrieving pragmatic rather than deductive data on environmental history, which can contribute to understanding global and regional problems of degradation. This offers an avenue to monitoring human impacts and environmental change, critical for understanding landscape histories, as well as for contemporary or future issues of sustainability in coupled human–environmental systems.
Robert Van de Noort
This chapter examines the future of wetland archaeology in the twenty-first century, focusing on the impact of climate change. It first describes the impact of climate change on wetlands using the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, and then considers the kinds of practical and political responses required from wetland archaeologists. Finally, the chapter discusses how we can develop an archaeological theory of wetlands that is fit for purpose in an era of climate change.