Discourse and Dissonance in the Archaeological Archive

Author(s): Mary Beaudry

Year: 2015


A process begun afresh for each archaeological site or research project involves constructing the archive through integrating differing lines of evidence. For historical archaeologists the archive includes written records, oral traditions, and material culture; often elements of the archive provide overlapping, conflicting, or entirely different insights into the past, requiring resolution and integration because of differences in scale, completeness, representativeness, temporal resolution, and lack of correspondence. The documentary record of a site can be as remarkably rich in detail and length of coverage as the archaeological record is deficient in the sorts of easily-dated sealed deposits that provide tight chronological control required to link episodes of deposition and particular objects with known inhabitants of the site. Or the reverse can be true; at times there are few if any documents to help one understand who lived at a site at a given time period, and the site is not recent enough for oral history to provide insight into what happened there in the past. This paper considers the intertextuality of sources and analyzes contrasting examples of success and of failure in attempts at establishing a dialogue between above-ground and below-ground evidence.

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Cite this Record

Discourse and Dissonance in the Archaeological Archive. Mary Beaudry. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397082)