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.. MERRILEE H.

SALMO
EXPLANATION ml ARCHAEOLOGY
1. ARCHAEOLOGY RE: POLITICS, HISTORY, SCIENCE, AND
PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE
Archaeology is an interdisciplinary field of study with implicatons that reach far beyond academia.
Today, most people recognize the close connections between archaeology and the state.
Governments regulate, at least indirectly, most archaeological work since they are charged with
preserving their countries cultural heritage. Archaeological excavation is so expensive that
government money is required to support any large scale project. Archaeological work is politically
important because archaeologists can trace the occupation of ethnic groups in particular
territories over significant periods of time. By combining archaeblogical information about former
inhabitants of a land with politicians contemporary cultural views about the continuity of
property rights, governments attempt to challenge or to defend present political boundaries
Archaeologys links with history are also clear. At least since Schliemaon succeeded in locating
ancient Troy on the basis of information in Homers poems, historians have seen the value of
archaeological materials for supplementing, supporting, or challenging historical documents.
Historical documents that focus on major political and military events leave many gaps in our
knowledge of everyday life in the historical past. historical archaeology helps to fill those gaps.
Archaeology provides a wealth of information about prehistoric times as well. R. G, Colling;vood, a
philosopher of history, who also participated in archaeological investigations, recognized that the
material record of past civilizations is a rich treasure that can be red and interpreted in ways
similar to written records {Collingvood 1930fi Anthropologists did not always agree with
Collingwood, however. For a time, around the middle of the 20th century, the social
anthropalogist A. 1952] decried attempts tq reconstruct hifa nteabsence of written, documents
conjectural histoi healYed it. But his views did not prevail, and Collingwoods attitude
towards using archaeological materials to read the pastare widely accepted today. chaeo,lo is
science as well as history and politics Archaeologists use scientific methods to sample collections
of materials found on the surface of the earth. They use the geological principle of superposition
to assign relative dates to materials embedded in layers of soil; they measure.