Whenever the Twain Shall Meet: Merging Ethnohistorical and Archaeological Data

Author(s): Deni Seymour

Year: 2018


Data sources, including documentary and archaeological, represent rich caches, full of mundane descriptions and an occasional succulent morsel that adds to the richness of our understanding of the past or potentially changes those understandings in fundamental ways. Yet facts are situated in frameworks of conventional wisdom, existing reconstructions, methodological practice, and extant data. Many substantial advances effectively and critically combine the particular with the generalizable, recognizing that humans respond in a predictable set of ways given similar parameters. Our work is to understand the variations and exceptions, the boundary conditions, the richness of the cultural overlay, and the effects of time and interaction on more generalizable behavior. Yet, archaeologists and ethnohistorians use data sources in different ways, establishing the question as to whether the twain shall meet. Some methodological differences relate to how one selects or weighs documents, and parts, passages, or elements therein, (2) assumptions as to clarity of meaning and soundness of translation, (3) the use of external evidence to assess interpretations, and (4) willingness to cede authority to other sub-disciplines. Apachean and O’odham examples are used to explore these issues and to assess effective tools, such as correlate grids, for reconstructing the past using all applicable data.

Cite this Record

Whenever the Twain Shall Meet: Merging Ethnohistorical and Archaeological Data. Deni Seymour. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443729)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -124.365; min lat: 25.958 ; max long: -93.428; max lat: 41.902 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 18750