Session: #296

Theme & Session Format

Archaeological theory and methods beyond paradigms
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Discussing the Value and Public Utility of Archaeology
Although archaeological research been spectacularly successful over the last fifty years, in many ways our perception of the value and public utility of the archaeological endeavour, as a social science, has been diminished. This is surprising, since it directly contrasts with something social scientists have known for some time – that the accumulation of socially learnt, culturally transmitted knowledge plays an important role in allowing human societies to adapt to changing circumstances. In this session, we would like to discuss the reasons for believing in the value and public utility of archaeology, taking time to reflect on the role of synthesis, the prospects of general models of human behaviour, especially with respect to the interactions between the environment, resource use, and agglomeration, and the kind of voice archaeological research should have in wider society. In doing so, we hope to make a case that archaeological research can and should make a crucial contribution to contemporary discourse.
Public utility, Synthesis, Environmental change, Resources, Agglomeration
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Main organiser:
John Hanson (United Kingdom) 1
Scott Ortman (United States) 2
1. University of Reading
2. University of Colorado, Boulder