A Paradigm Shift in Regional Archaeology?

Author(s): Alex Knodell

Year: 2017


The pace and scale of technological change in field- and lab-based applications in remote sensing, spatial sciences, and digital media (to name only a few) have fundamentally transformed archaeological research design and practice, especially on a regional level. But have these technological advances changed the discipline in ways that might constitute a paradigm shift? Have they resulted in new disciplinary priorities? Or do they simply represent newer, faster ways to pursue agendas not so different than before? This paper examines positive and negative examples of what may constitute a paradigm shift in regional archaeology and what implications that may have. The first case concerns remote sensing and spatial technologies. The second has to do with digital media. A critical examination from the perspective of scientific revolutions suggests that new priorities have emerged in direct response to certain technological opportunities, especially since the 1990s. It is more difficult to assess our current state in the 21st century – although seemingly characterized by exponential growth in everything "digital," few would argue that in every case this represents some unqualified good. A further challenge is that disciplinary change tends to be apparent mostly in hindsight. Nevertheless, such field-shaping developments call for careful scrutiny.

Cite this Record

A Paradigm Shift in Regional Archaeology?. Alex Knodell. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431325)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16115