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Archaeology, A Bone to Pick: Pitfalls of a Destructive Science

Author(s): Katherine Peterson

Year: 2017

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Archaeology, as a science, has a long history, not all of which has been ideal. Archaeologists in one generation are routinely dismayed with the work of previous generations of archaeologists. Sometimes this less than satisfactory work is due to a lack of knowledge at the time, as we learn more with each new technological advancement, and with each new generation of archaeologists. However, more often than we would like, these flaws in past archaeological work are due to apathy or negligence. In either case, we lose much information. Archaeology, after all, is a destructive process. Once we choose to excavate, it can never be undone. Using excavation examples from the distant past, as well as more recent examples, I argue that archaeology still suffers much from this ‘dark side’. With these examples in mind, I propose that as archaeologists, we attempt to fill in the gaps where we can, and to take the full responsibility of this destructive science seriously.

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Archaeology, A Bone to Pick: Pitfalls of a Destructive Science. Katherine Peterson. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430488)


Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17320

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