The Importance Of Archaeology Theory In Archaeology

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A theory is best described as a proposed explanation of an observation. A theory has a couple important requirements; it is used to develop hypotheses, it must be able to be tested in the real world, it can always be corrected, and it can generate new lines of investigation. Both outside and within archaeology theory is increasingly popular and seen as increasingly important (Johnson, 2015). This paper will look at Archaeological theory in terms of Processual Archaeology or ‘New Archaeology’ and trace its history and development.
In 1959, Joseph Caldwell published an article in Science called “The New American Archaeology” (Trigger, 2006). He used the article to examine major trends that he believed were transforming archaeology. Processual
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Processual archaeology looked to identify the environmental factors that influenced past human behaviors by using the scientific method where explanation is valued over description. It stressed theory formation, model building and hypothesis testing (Earle et al. 1987). The goal was to look past the archeological record limits of cataloging and recording to learn something about how the people lived based on the artifacts, no longer asking only what but also focusing on the how and why. The objective explanation then comes from explicit methodologies that are modelled on the hard sciences (Shanks and Hodder,…show more content…
As I mentioned in my first paper cracks begin to appear in the processual theory in the late 1970s because of internal critiques and transformations. Clarke (1973) suggested that the New Archaeology would face opposition from amateurs, historical archaeologists and practical excavators, although argued that such individuals would nevertheless benefit from the theory's adoption. Many archaeologists criticized this practice for its failure to explain variability in past human

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