Systematics in Prehistory

Systematics in Prehistory

Systematics in Prehistory

Systematics in Prehistory

Excerpt

Man has probably had an interest in his past as long as he has been man. Depending upon which authorities one reads and which criteria he uses, this interest has been expressed as archaeology in Western Civilization variously--since the birth of that civilization in the Near East, since the time of classical Greece and Rome in the Mediterranean, or since the European Renaissance. Over this period of time--be it five thousand or five hundred years--there naturally have been radical changes in the approach and nature of archaeology.

Today, judging by the meager perspective that can be gained contemporarily, we seem to be entering such a period of change. Often this change is phrased in terms of different approaches or competing schools called the "new archaeology" and the "old archaeology." The "new archaeology" has a different view of the relevance of man's past to his present; its goals appear to be aimed at explanation of man's past, not just at its recitation. With new aims have come, at least to some degree, new means for accomplishing them. The newly envisioned goals provide a clarity of purpose, and the people practicing the "new archaeology" are more systematic and articulate about what they are doing, how they are doing it, and, most importantly, why they are doing it. In looking back, or rather across, to the "old archaeology," the complaints of the new are not so much that the old is wrong--indeed, the old has produced nearly all that we now have of man's past--but that its goals are too narrow . . .

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