Essay: Philosophy of Archaeology

The philosophy of Archaeology is based around the division between subjectivity and objectivity (Shanks and Tilley, 1992). Archaeologists follow what is known as the ‘Hermeneutic Circle’, which is basically a difficult construction of the entirety of life, including that of which we don’t know, or even fully understand to date (Shanks and Tilley, 1992). The means of interpretation within the hermeneutic circle generates change and further work on interpreted theories (Shanks and Tilley, 1992). To be a successful interpreter in the act of archaeology, it is the ‘questioning of things’ which is essential (Shanks and Tilley, 1992). It is the means of looking deeper into what we just ‘see’ all around us, and as a result we come to understand past operations such as structure and language (Shanks and Tilley, 1992). Although some types of archaeologists believe so, interpretations are not inferior to actual artefacts (Shanks and Tilley, 1992). Gadamer reconstructed hermeneutics and discovered that there will always be complications when subjectivity and objectivity are combined (Shanks and Tilley, 1992). It is only through the absence of science that we find simplicity and have a sole purpose in writing novels (Shanks and Tilley, 1992).
Furthermore, there is no emphasis put on the idea that archaeology is an interpretive hermeneutic exercise (Shanks and Tilley, 1992). There are problems with the hermeneutic circle, such as its lack of understanding to structure, and its acceptable debate of power and ideology towards other archaeological industries (Shanks and Tilley, 1992). In the interpretation of data, the dialectical process binds with theory, in other words, dialect and language collaborates with moment, conciliation, and conflict (Shanks and Tilley, 1992). The interpretation of data involves the creation of a mode of theoretical funding of data, a method of analysis and criticism surpassing subjectivity and objectivity, and a theory of sociology which is decided based on connections and the consistency of change (Shanks and Tilley, 1992). An archaeologist is not a dealer of facts, as facts are not self-reliant on their theories (Shanks and Tilley, 1992). Ideas are the basis of human activity with regards to its perimeter, i.e. when studying an ancient tomb, data is the outcome of symbolic human activity (Shanks and Tilley, 1992). Shanks and Tilley describe the process as ‘the interpreter conceptualizing the object and in return the object affects the conceptualization’ (Shanks and Tilley, 1992). To explain, the archaeologist interprets data based on theoretical objects, whereby they create conceptual links and structure principles (Shanks and Tilley, 1992). Social structures are the connections of production and reproduction (Shanks and Tilley, 1992). They are not independent of the movements they have administered and the operator’s idea of what movements they are carrying out, and they are in a constant state of structuration and are only somewhat enduring (Shanks and Tilley, 1992).
Interpreters do not exclude the sentiment of knowledge (Shanks and Tilley, 1992). Nevertheless, their aim is to provide interpretations without the stress of tiring analysis being put on the conceptual equipment (Shanks and Tilley, 1992). At all costs they avoid unneeded repetition, but rather continual restarts on the project at hand (Shanks and Tilley, 1992). Wheeler believes that archaeology is not digging up objects, but the archaic people themselves (Shanks and Tilley, 1992), as each discovery gives us more information about the people of the community. It is the term ‘culture’ which provides a link between people and artefacts, and leads us to the truth of ideas, migration, invasion, and change (Shanks and Tilley, 1992). According to Clarke, culture is more archaeological than the tribal objects, whereas Renfrew is of the belief that culture is the irrational botany which contributes to change (Shanks and Tilley, 1992). On the other hand, Shennan believes instability of space creates change, and the Beaker phenomenon is simply just a cultural tradition (Shanks and Tilley, 1992). Binford is definite of the idea that artefacts are the language of archaic social traditions of individual groups, and act in portraying behaviour and adaptation (Shanks and Tilley, 1992). The certainty that the social system is based on biological similarities, and the collaboration of a social system and an ecosystem results in technology and population, is an agreement made by Renfrew, Clarke, Plog and many other archaeologists (Shanks and Tilley, 1992).
The criticism for social transformations is directed at offensive materialists for reducing all explanation to confine economic fatalism (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). They are against culture ecologists who transfer variation to intricate ecological-based statistical variables, which is socially and politically adapted (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). Furthermore, archaeology was developed into a more general analysis of fatalism, and unified system approaches which was dependant on researchers of natural sciences (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). The natural response in emphasizing various forms of environmental and economic possibilities is to increase the independence of social factors in structuring materials and the environment (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). In turn, this stresses discontinuity over continuity in social change, and recognizes that ‘human beings make history but not necessarily under conditions of their own choosing’ (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). The conception of time allows archaeology to be useful and unique to social and historical sciences (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998).
The evolution of sociology transfers object into study (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). Social archaeology is the works of assumed categories whereby material and sociality arrange a methodical entirety as an impartial circumstance on the mapping of actors and actions, beliefs and practices (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). Documenting what happened in the past requires legitimacy of experience, as close as possible to the actions of the ancient people (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). Otherwise, an archaeological explanation narrating those people’s choices and outcomes is an option, rather than automatically concluded quests of unknown pressures (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). The long term approach is perpetual action, which is recognized as stamina of form, or a way of carrying out a task consciously without being manipulated by it (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). Structure within social archaeology is the act of shaping subjective experiences (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). Lucan and L��vi-Strauss are of the opinion that structure was that part of reality that remains un-epitomized (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). According to Marx, structure is related to pre-subjective, or inhibits the role of social animosity (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). Additionally, Lucan, L��vi-Strauss, and Marx agree that structure is more than force on actions or rules controlling hidden inclinations, but the social reality (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). Giddens tends to draw attention to power, structural domination and the control of resources; in broader terms, the social reproduction (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). He explains the social reproduction as ‘an act to negate the very principles upon which they are based’ (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). Braudelian follows the ‘structure and conjuncture’ scheme, whereby extensive historical forces structure and are structured by personal experiences (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). Anderson criticizes Thompson’s opinion on the clarity of experience to understand co-determination (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). Experience in the eyes of an apathetic series of worldly events is the opposite to the act of ‘seeing through’ in effecting change in the world (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998).
In the post-structuralist ‘linguistic turn’ of recent years brings forth the argument that the impulse to comply in the dictatorship of epistemologies imagines that archaeology is established by examples and the change in examples (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). This hypothesis renounces the basic questions of historical pathways and motions (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). Changes in the historical context of archaeology is guided by a revival in another place of evolutionary and biological psychology (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). Furthermore, the line drawn between objectivism as science and subjectivism as humanity is steadier now than ever before (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). There has been success in the demonstration process on how social motions have comprised as historical forces, surrounding and assembling subjectivity and agency in culturally unique approaches (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). However, this is not their only goal (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). They reflect great ambition on structure authorization over the subject, the unconscious over the conscious, and the force over the action, all of which are loathing contrasts with phenomenology and the practice approach (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998).
The interruption interfering with archaeological research in the Stonehenge landscape has corresponded with a course of enhanced debate over the individuality of social archaeology, especially due to its relationship with the British Neolithic (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008). The Stonehenge Riverside Project is a collaboration of research directed by six academic archaeologists from five different British Universities (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008). There were three specific approaches taken on the Stonehenge Riverside Project, the first being the ‘materiality of monuments’, whereby bodily preoccupation and component substances involved monumental construction (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008). Parker Pearson and Ramilsonia drew an alignment with modern day Madagascar, proposing that timber and stone monuments are understood differently by Neolithic people (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008). Wooden houses have similar organic matter than that of human flesh (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008). Stone tombs and standing stones are a restricted privilege of the dead (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008). Two monuments may be central in two specific areas, reserved for the living and the dead, and linked by the River Avon (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008). The second approach involves the complexion of materials in the archaeological record, known as ‘structured deposition’ (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008). This was carried out in the 1980’s by Wainwright and was reassessed for the need of the Stonehenge Riverside Project (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008). The excavations took place at Durrington Walls Henge, where it was interpreted that deposits were placed deliberately (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008). Moreover, the individuals of the community are expressing their connections through material deposition (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008). Thirdly, the team carried out the phenomenology of the landscape (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008). A field survey was produced emphasizing the true experience of the place and monuments (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008). The human perspective was then used as an addition to the map and survey of Colt Hoare and Crocker, i.e. phenomenology (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008).
The greater Stonehenge Cursus is a continuous enclosure over a mile in length, found between King Barrow Ridge and Fargo Ridge, north of Stonehenge (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008). It has association with Early Neolithic long barrows, including Amesbury 42, which is parallel to its eastern terminal (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008). Radiocarbon dates are taken from its falls in the third millennium cal. BC, which is in the later Neolithic (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008). Antler discovered here date between 3632 and 3375 BC, and 3630 and 3370 BC (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008). These dates record to half a millennium earlier than the earliest period of building at Stonehenge (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008). Cursus is believed to play an important role in developing the landscape in with which Stonehenge was placed (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008). The original physical arrangement has showed alignment on Beacon Hill, and the ditches hold little matter, meaning archaeologists are lucky to have even excavated the antler here (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008).
Woodhenge is a small Neolithic enclosure south of Durrington Walls, excavated by Mud Cunnington in the 1920’s (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008). A 2006 excavation discovered a large amount of Early Neolithic carinated bowl pottery in a three-hole filled bank overlay (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008). Cannington’s original excavation discovered timber circles, which were found to be two disconnected phases of stone settings, proving it is a long lived structural progression (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008). In 2007, the south of Woodhenge was found to be an area of Bronze Age ring ditches (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008). Three separate Late Neolithic timber constructions were confronted, each with four main uprights with two entrance posts, and an occasional enclosing palisade (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008). These structures are unroofed, yet they are believed to have association with Late Neolithic grooved ware traditional housing (Parker Pearson, Pollard, Richards, Thomas, Tilley and Welham, 2008).
Phenomenology is commonly described as ‘touchy-feely’, which we cannot deny has much relevance to its process in sensory experience (Hamilton, 2006). It is the procedure of involvement of human experience to an archaeological site, and is completely unscientific (Hamilton, 2006). It is a totality of subjectivity, and pays no attention to the objective science in any form (Hamilton, 2006). It has interest for the areas of the past that cannot be answered by conventional archaeological practices, however they are not of the opinion that the senses appeal more to a site than any other archaeological method (Hamilton, 2006).
The most exceptional outcome of phenomenology was an addition to the Tavoliere-Gargano Prehistory Project which was first started in 2003 (Hamilton, 2006). The aim of this project was to explore the relationship between the Tavoliere plain and neighbouring mountainous Gargano Promontory in later prehistory (Hamilton, 2006). These two are believed to have most likely been exploited in agreeable fashion, yet there has been little work done to prove this (Hamilton, 2006). The project involves many different survey approaches, all on different scales, and encompasses GIS and phenomenological surveys, including the correction of original excavation and survey results to provide a chronological and circumstantial foundation (Hamilton, 2006). Original excavated sites found four ditched villages; Monte Aquilone, La Panetteria I, Masseria la Guercia, and Masseria Bongo (Hamilton, 2006). The first three were insufficently excavated, whereas the fourth was completely untouched (Hamilton, 2006).
The phenomenological approach commenced with ‘mapping visual perception of landscape from a single standing point at the centre of each side’ (Hamilton, 2006). This technique involved recording human sight from a single viewpoint, i.e. the body is capable of turning 360 degrees at any fixed position, and the head is capable of turning 180 degrees at any fixed position (Hamilton, 2006). Since the 1990’s, the archaeological publication has examined photographic images in portraying the reality that we look around rather than ‘at’ (Hamilton, 2006). Due to the fact that phenomenological experiences are direct from the field, William Stukeley began drawings with a circular view, where the horizon is presented as a continuous circle (Hamilton, 2006). At Tavoliere, the representation of ditch enclosures on images intended the use of four concentric horizons (Hamilton, 2006). The four circles performed the near, middle, far and dominant features (Hamilton, 2006). As a result, phenomenologists found that Tavoliere is not the consistent environment they believed it to be, and Gargano, Apennines and central locations have different landscapes with regard to proximity (Hamilton, 2006).
The second phenomenological practice was known as ‘mapping and recording sentiment social space’ (Hamilton, 2006). Its aim was to use phenomenology to examine the social parameters which could possibly have distinguished the Neolithic ditched enclosures (Hamilton, 2006). Tavoliere was assumed to be settlement sites and a position for many social and practical efforts, including face-to-face and longer distanced communication (Hamilton, 2006). The sites were categorized for their size; Classes I and II were independent, acephalous and democratic communities, and Classes III and IV seemed to have appeared in the Middle Neolithic (Hamilton, 2006). The fact that the smaller sites surround the larger ones suggests a course of nucleation (Hamilton, 2006). Flags were used to mark boundary ditches, which adequately formed images to allow senses to become an addition to these invisible sites (Hamilton, 2006). Tools were set for monitoring sound and visual experience (Hamilton, 2006). As a result, the growth of these sites was unestablished due to problems with the classification of pottery, as there was a limited number of radiocarbon dates (Hamilton, 2006). Monte Aquilone in Class I was the only site found with purified communicational efforts from the centre of the site to the outskirts of the site (Hamilton, 2006). La Panterria I in Class II performed communication in one place, between the c-ditch and its neighbour when raised voices were used (Hamilton, 2006). Masseria La Quercia in Class II could communicate from the centre of the site to the outskirts, but interestingly, this could only be done with a female shout (Hamilton, 2006). However, Classes II, III, and IV would have had socializers and co-workers to spread information (Hamilton, 2006).
The third phenomenological approach was known as ‘phenomenological site catchment analysis’ (PSCA) (Hamilton, 2006). It was an investigation in integrating traditional economic approaches and land-use approaches to landscape (SCA) with phenomenological approaches (Hamilton, 2006). Original SCA involved walking around the landscape of the site and the journey to the site, which achieved a phenomenological experience of the landscape (Hamilton, 2006). The practice was developed by the British Academy Research Project in the Early History of Agriculture (Hamilton, 2006). It is defined as ‘the study of the relationship between technology and those resources lying within the economic range of individual sites’ (Hamilton, 2006). At Tavoliere, the process was carried out on four sites (Hamilton, 2006). The aim of PSCA was to fuse traditional SCA material with observations that may subsidize our knowledge of sociology and experimentation in the life of Neolithic settlements and analyse the connection between the two (Hamilton, 2006).
To conclude, we cannot deny that we need both subjectivity and objectivity in discovering the best possible answer to archaeological sites. Through the use of objectivity we are capable of chronologically categorizing artefacts and constructions, and through the use of subjectivity the application of human experience allows us to recognise the additions to sites in with which science cannot answer. Archaeological and ethnographic processes are unable to continue without the existence of a social links between the observer and the observed, and that link is explicitly speculated in the research process (Rowlands and Kristiansen, 1998). To provide social links, we require objects that can be dated or portray a certain time in the archaeological record, and the human experience that will visualize social links within the community.

(Shanks, M. and Tilley, C. 1992 [1987]. Re-Constructing Archaeology. London: Routledge, chapters 5 and 6).
(Rowlands, M. and Kristiansen, K. 1998. Introduction. In Social Transformations in Archaeology. London: Routledge. Pp. 1-26).
(Parker Pearson, M., Pollard, J., Richards, C., Thomas, J., Tilley, C. and Welham, K. 2008. The Stonehenge Riverside Project: Exploring the Neolithic Landscape of Stonehenge. Documenta Praehistorica 35. Pp. 153-166).
(Hamilton, S. et al. 2006. Phenomenology in Practice: Towards a Methodology for a Subjective Approach. European Journal of Archaeology 9 (1). Pp. 31-71).

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