Session: #245

Theme & Session Format

5. Assembling archaeological theory and the archaeological sciences
Session format:
Session with keynote presentation and discussion

Title & Content

Lost in Translation? - Interplay of Archaeological Theory and Scientific Practice as Key for Modern Archaeological Reasoning
The increase of new methodologies and scientific analyses in current archaeological studies have revolutionised archaeological questioning and reasoning. Quantitative approaches, such as isotope or genetic analyses have become ubiquitous in most modern research proposals. Undoubtedly powerful tools, they often are not embedded in a theoretical framework. They are applied because of their popular appeal and seeming simplicity, rather than methodological, theoretical or archaeological necessity. Scientific data is produced to exist, without prior hypotheses demanding its presence. Similar approaches are often seen in the applications of statistics or modelling, where archaeological data is mainly treated as big data, whereas in fact it is usually messy data with many limitations. Whilst this is often considered the epitome of interdisciplinary research, it rarely is. Generally neither side properly understands the methods and reasoning of the other leading to parallel research strategies.
In our discussion session we aim to find new pathways to generate true interdisciplinarity, and improved understanding and knowledge of “the other side”. We aim to explore the transdisciplinary potential of scientific analysis and archaeological interpretation and theory to tighten the network of archaeological and analytical methodologies in our discipline. We particularly welcome young researchers, people working in transdisciplinary research projects, and those who wish to participate in bridging the gap and translating between different research frameworks and methods.

They keynote will be given by Mark Pearce (University of Nottingham):
In 1959, C.P. Snow drew attention to the existence of 'two cultures', the divide between science and the arts, and I shall use his famous essay as a starting point to highlight the failure of communication and indeed of comprehension between archaeological science and mainstream archaeology and try to explain the reasons that underly it.

Abstracts should introduce the discussants; there will be no traditional presentations except the keynote.
Quantitative Approaches, Method and Theory, Big data, Transdisciplinarity
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Main organiser:
Chiara Girotto (Germany) 1
Thomas Rose (Israel) 2,3
1. Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich
2. Department of Bible, Archaeology and the Ancient Near East, Ben Gurion University of the Negev
3. Scienze dell'Antichità, Sapienza - Università di Roma