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Deep Time Versus Archaeological Time: Disentangling Stratigraphy, Periodization, and Historical Narrative

Author(s): Matthew Knisley

Year: 2017

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Summary

The earth sciences have periodically contributed to shifts in archaeologists’ theoretical and methodological approaches to space and time ("deep" time and sociocultural evolution, stratigraphic laws and contextual interpretation). The Anthropocene seems to herald another such shift, but the category/concept remains controversial given its bridging, by design, of science and politics. This paper argues that archaeologists can clarify our discipline’s engagement with these debates by comparing archaeological and geological periodization. An assessment of differing approaches to sedimentary layers reveals conflicting disciplinary logics concerning evidence and historical narrative. These differences extend beyond scaling individual disciplines "up" or "down" through space and time, or how to incorporate non-traditional lines of evidence into the existing interpretive frameworks of particular disciplines. This paper points to a number of conceptual matters that must be addressed as part of a possible disciplinary reordering in response to the challenges of global warming and other environmental crises.


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Deep Time Versus Archaeological Time: Disentangling Stratigraphy, Periodization, and Historical Narrative. Matthew Knisley. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430821)


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Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17511

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