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Archaeological Epistemology and Praxis: Multidimensional Context

Author(s): Vivian James

Year: 2016

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This paper builds on ideas expressed by Taylor (1948) and Schiffer (1988) to argue that there is a foundational theory in archaeology that is pervasive, definitive, and underlies all archaeological epistemology and praxis. It is so basic an idea that it is thought of as an assumption rather than a theory, yet it is a major contribution from archaeology to scientific knowledge and practice. This theory is "context," which goes far beyond the three dimensions of object-space-time advocated by Willey and Phillips (1953) or the four dimensions of provenience and association as defined by Lyman (2012). This paper explores the multidimensionality of context as theory to recognize the unique and relevant contributions of archaeological epistemology and praxis to science.

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Archaeological Epistemology and Praxis: Multidimensional Context. Vivian James. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405249)


context Science Theory

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America