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Christopher Watts

ANT200 October 3, 2011 Lecture 4- Interpreting Material Culture Last week talking about theoretical paradigms in arch. Tonight pick up on some of those themes and apply them specifically to material culture to artifacts, house forms, all the stuff find and call artifactual in the archaeological record Talk about interpretation of material culture within the paradigms we discussed Hes going to talk about all aspects of material culture not just style (like Boast) Tutorials next week theme is doing words with things. Pick up on themes from boast article and from tonights lecture Introduction Paradigms/ themes - Culture history- description trying to boil the paradigm down to one word. Primarily concerned with description of arch entities through space and time - Processualism- explanation explaining how the record appeared the way it did for you. Behavioral processes behind what you find - Post-processualism-interpretation desires of them to engage with other disciplines and theorists and indigenous peoples etc Apply to the stuff of the arch record Culture history Recall: concerned with the what, when and where of past groups Wanted to say something about the peoplewhat kind of cultures are we talking about and where are they found on the groundwhat is their spatial range..and also temporal range (when did they emerge and go away) Major emphasis on description and classification of artifacts Not just enough to say that this group could be found in SW of Germany (eg)wanted to say this is what their pottery looked like and stone tools and their sites (number of houses and configuration) V. Gordon Childes definition of an archaeological culture: - Certain types of remains-pots, implements, burial rites, house forms- constantly recurring together. - His definition of an archaeological culture is therefore all of the stuff of the arch record which we can attribute to human behavior, human agency - All of the stuff should conform to a normative conception of good designshouldnt be too much variation - And should occur through space and time from one site to another depending on how long this culture is extant for Artifacts- material manifestations of collective cultural norms Thats the definition to culture historians Culture history is sometimes known as normative archaeology Reason for that is because culture historians think the culture is an idealized set of traits that exist in the head When they talk about cultures and the artifacts that exist with them, saying that culture is something that exists in the mind. Predetermined what is acceptable style and practices When looking at artifacts in arch record, were glimpsing the materialization of these norms that exist in the head These norms govern behavior: making pottery, tools, how houses should be built Picture of historian describing iron age in UK. These diagrams common in culture historical circles. Can illustrate graphically the arch culture through remains. Woodbury culture 750 BC- time of roman invasion of UK He arrayed everything according to temporal periods: early pre roman iron age, late pre roman iron age For the earliest part of woodbury culture, can identify and talk about it based on some of the items in the diagram Illustrated form and decoration of various pottery types Norms are shared and transmitted through enculturation Shared that ensures making proper pottery etc Transmitted through various practices from one generation to the next Not much room within that kind of thinking for change that could be introduced through the actions of individuals. If saw new pottery style that emerged that was likely the result of diffusion and migration but not likely result of internal assertion of a new identity (like younger generation changing things) In this literature if something changed, was likely the result of a new group moving in or that idea spreading from one area to the next This paradigm tried to establish cultural traditions Trying to determine how can look through patterns of continuity through time to figure out how long the culture was extant Result: continuous cultural tradition Important: - Artifacts reflect pre-existing ideas and identities - Not necessarily things that are born of external processes or interaction between structure and agency - When culture historians talk about artifacts, talk about them as containers - Artifacts as containers - One of the conclusions of Boast is that is impossible to adequately answer the question or problem of style - Because question of style is really to try and engage in an exercise thats really hard. Because style as a concept is something thats peculiar to a particular way of thinking about the world (particularly a modern western way of looking at the world)- Many contemporary and past cultures that likely wouldnt have sense the world in that waywould not have had a concept of style - For people that do (like the western world), see the world as a slate, something that can be etched with a stylistic precept. Unique way of looking at the world - Culture historians see artifactual past as blank slate or canvas on which past peoples paint the canvas with their normative ideas - Important to the cultural historical paradigm - containers in a more abstract sense contain ideas. Dont themselves do anything but act as recipients for normative ideas Mechanisms of change: - Internal development and innovation slow, gradual process; limited in scope - these are comparatively rare - some culture historians acknowledge that change can come within - External influences, eg diffusion, migration and conquest sudden; more widespread - this is more popular among Cultural Historians - when see a change say it diffused from another group or a group moved from one region to another or the group was conquered and thats why see these new styles - these mechanisms used to explain abrupt changes in the record
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