Session: #203

Theme & Session Format

Archaeological theory and methods beyond paradigms
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

The Age beyond ‘Paradigms’ - Eclectic Shapes of Processualism 2.0?
Discussions on modelling the past have identified the crisis of ideas in archaeological research beyond the Age of paradigms. There is the basic issue that, quantitative or not, modelling demands simplification, creating a caricature of the society it is describing. We have to question whether highly theoretic archaeological modelling, with a tendency to create environmentally driven models, devoid of cognitive human factors are more than a travesty of the archaeology that they purport to describe.
Is it too late to turn our back on the potential of simplified explanation, based on statistical methods and the analysis of ‘big data’, often mimicking approaches, mindsets, and values similar to contemporaneous societies? Or should we rather look for the emergence of new syntheses, respectful of the different paradigms, by harnessing the integrative power that modelling, quantitatively and otherwise, can provide?
In this session we aim to continue the discussions from last year’s session “397: Modelling the past: Crisis of ideas in modern archaeology”, which exemplified the current state of the art. This session especially aims to discuss the integrated future of theoretical archaeological research by further specifying the ‘shapes’ of crisis and trajectories for the Age beyond paradigms and attempting to find a middle ground between generic theory modelling and detailed structuring of data. We wish to approach the following questions:
- Based on the data, are the questions we ask to complex for the models to address?
- How does the acknowledgement of complexity theory alter the approach to a model?
- How are narratives encoded in models?
- Are we getting lost in multiple meanings or rather exploring the potential of manifold explanations for a phenomenon?
- Is there any empirical evidence that cannot be explained from the perspective of any paradigm?
- How are we creating Processualism 2.0?
modelling, complexity theory, paradigms, ‘big data’ analysis, archaeological theory
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Main organiser:
Chiara Girotto (Germany) 1
Aleksandr Diachenko (Ukraine) 2
Ray Rivers (United Kingdom) 3
Oliver Nakoinz (Germany) 4
1. Goethe University Frankfurt
2. National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Institute of Archaeology
3. Imperial College London
4. Christian Albrechts University in Kiel