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The Nature of Scientific Experimentation in Archaeology: Experimental Archaeology from the Nineteenth to the mid Twentieth Century

Author(s): Carolyn Forrest

Editor(s): Roeland P Paardekooper ; Penny Cunningham ; Julia Heeb

Year: 2008

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The ‘experimental’ element of archaeology was born in the great scientific explosion of the nineteenth century taking place in disciplines such as archaeology, geology and anthropology. The roots of experimental archaeology are therefore not shallow at all, although oft en balanced between ‘mainstream’ or ‘amateur’. The lay status of the amateur expert and public performance of experimental archaeology seem to have diminished its credibility as either academic or professional. However, amateur involvement in experimental archaeology can off er a powerful link between the academic community and the public at the same time as enhancing a particular form of archaeological interpretation. The growth of professional, scientific archaeology since the 1960s has changed the contribution made by the amateur tradition. Accessibility to everyone has grown. The role of the museum has changed to include a greater engagement with the public on an intellectual and physical level. Participation and interaction is indicative of the ‘changing tastes and preoccupations of the audiences’. The rapid development of the number of archaeological open air centres is very important to

experimental archaeology.

The very success of public engagement in experimental archaeology is one of the main reasons that experimental archaeology has not always been fully accepted as a serious part of academic archaeology.

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Cite this Record

The Nature of Scientific Experimentation in Archaeology: Experimental Archaeology from the Nineteenth to the mid Twentieth Century. Carolyn Forrest, Roeland P Paardekooper, Penny Cunningham, Julia Heeb. In Experiencing Archaeology By Experiment. Pp. 61-68. Oxford: Oxbow Books. 2008 ( tDAR id: 422099)


Experimental Archaeology History

Geographic Keywords

Temporal Keywords
Newest Era

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): EXARC Experimental Archaeology Collection Manager

Record Identifiers

ExArc Id(s): 8611


Rights & Attribution: The information in this record was originally compiled by Dr. Roeland Paardekooper, EXARC Director.

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