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Lecture 18

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Ben Akrigg

CLA260H1S Method and Theory in Classics Session 18: Classical Archaeology 1 In addition to chapter 14 in the textbook (and bibliography for session 6), useful material is collected in the volume Classical Archaeology (in the Blackwell Studies in Global Archaeology series) edited by Robin Osborne and Susan Alcock (2008). The history and status of classical archaeology Osborne and Alcock, pages 11-12: ‘More than any other branch of archaeology, classical archaeology has a history. It is not simply that people have been concerned with the material culture of Greek and Roman antiquity for a very long time now, and that attempts to put the remains of Greek and Roman sculpture and architecture into some sort of order go back to the 18 century. It is also that what scholars do with that material culture today is in dialogue not just with the Greek and Roman past but with the history of its own scholarship [...] ‘Part of the peculiar position of classical archaeology arises from the way in which it is both a branch of archaeology and a branch of Classics. Interest in the material culture of Greek and Roman antiquity has arisen not simply through the intrinsic interest of the material but through interest in the relationship between the material world and the world of classical texts. At the same time, the wealth of classical texts offers classical archaeologists a resource not available to prehistoric archaeology. Yet the way in which the questions asked by classical archaeologists, and the sites which they investigate, have been determined by classical texts has often been seen as a weakness, rather than a strength. Archaeologists working in prehistory have frequently found themselves impatient with what they see as the reduction of material culture to providing illustration to texts. They have been impatient too with classical archaeology’s tendency to pay attention to certain classes of artifact (above all to “works of art”) and to ignore other classes of artifact. For them, classical archaeology has too often seemed to be a treasure hunt where the clue
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