Archaeology : the basics by Clive Gamble

By Clive Gamble

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So American archaeology in particular was a late addition to the feminist debate. Elsewhere, the advent of gender archaeology was aided by critiques of authority mounted by interpretive archaeologists (see below), particularly in Europe, Australia and South Africa. When combined the advances are already considerable (Gero and Conkey 1991; Wadley 1997). By questioning the scientific method, and with it the processual interpretation of the past, archaeology has become a less secure discipline – in terms of understanding itself and protecting its interests.

Television coverage, impractical in 1939, meant that 13 million people watched the excavations in the 1980s, as compared with perhaps a hundred who visited the original dig. 13 ARCHAEOLOGY: THE BASICS Sutton Hoo as a heritage issue The latest investigations at Sutton Hoo were partly prompted by the threat of treasure hunting using metal detectors. It is ironic that science should provide the means both to aid and to destroy archaeology. It is also ironic that Mrs Pretty’s selflessness should be matched by others’ greed for treasure.

18 WHAT IS ARCHAEOLOGY? The list makes divisions between theory, techniques and professional practice, and periods and regions. Within each category will be many questions, such as the origins of agriculture or the Romanisation of Britain. The divisions and questions will be cross-cut by themes such as trade, religion, subsistence and the archaeology of death. These are too numerous to list. It matters little how you participate in archaeology. What you will find by reading, surfing, excavating or learning about the subject is that there are major differences in approach.

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