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The Deep Structure of Dependency: Relational data and heuristics in archaeology

Author(s): Angus Mol

Year: 2016

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Summary

The last decade has seen a rise in archaeological studies addressing network concepts, models and dynamics. These studies cover a range of archaeological approaches and subdisciplines, from the conceptual, like Actor Network Theory (ANT) to the formalized, like Agent Based Modelling (ABM), as well as frameworks that have connected archaeological theory and network methods, like Knappett’s Archaeology of Interaction and Hodder’s Entanglement.

What all of these studies have in common is an emphasis on relations and, more specifically, the analysis or interpretation of the dependencies between archaeologically observable phenomena. With this comes an heuristic that is often obscured, but is itself based on a multi-scalar and pluriform set of dependencies: mutually supportive hypotheses or theories built on multi-disciplinary data-sets, applicable to scales of analysis from microscopic to interregional.

By examining a number of classical and more recent studies taking a network approach, this paper will review how archaeology has handled this "deep structure of dependency" and seeks to provide an answer to the question how disparate studies seeking to understand the connected past can lead to consilience of knowledge.


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The Deep Structure of Dependency: Relational data and heuristics in archaeology. Angus Mol. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405376)


Keywords


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