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Experimentation and interpretation: the use of experimental archaeology in the study of the past

by Dana C E Millson, Theoretical Archaeology Group England Conference
Papers from a session held at the annual Theoretical Archaeology Group TAG Conference in Southampton England Dec 2008 ()

Abstract

Experimental archaeology is today forging new links between archaeological scientists and theorists. Many of the best archaeological projects today are those which use methodology and interpretation from both the sciences and the arts. The papers presented here reflect this interdisciplinary approach and focus on sites and material culture spanning from the Mesolithic to the Late Medieval periods. They range from the history of experimentation in archaeology and its place within the field today, to the theory behind `the experiment', to several projects which have used controlled experimentation to test hypotheses about archaeological remains, past actions, and the scientific processes we use. Now that archaeology has moved beyond the focus of the Processual/Post-Processual debates of the 1970s and 80s, which pitted science against the arts, archaeologists have more freedom to choose how to `do archaeology'. The contributions to this book reflect this as problems are approached in creative ways, which move back and forth between science and theory in a hermeneutic fashion, and hypotheses are challenged and new theories formed.

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