AAA Annual Meeting Program

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Paper Information:
Type: Paper
Paper Title: RECONCILING SCIENTIFIC ARCHAEOLOGY WITH ANTHROPOLOGY
Author: DANIEL SEINFELD   
Date/Time: Sun., 10:45 AM
Co-Author(s): DANIEL SEINFELD 
Abstract: Scientific archaeology distinguishes itself from purely analytical sciences through its focus on using scientific techniques to answer questions about humanity’s past. Recent debate has called into question the relevance of cultural anthropology to archaeology because of the increasing prominence of scientific and archaeometric techniques in the subdiscipline. These trends have made aspects of archaeology more positivistic and tied to natural sciences. As techniques of archaeological science become more complex, some posit that archaeologists should pursue more technical training rather than the traditional four-field education given in most programs in the United States. Although these critiques are valid and archaeologists need better technical training, I argue for the relevance of broader anthropological training to archeologists. Despite archaeology’s focus on analyzing artifacts, ultimately people remain the primary object of interest. Forming and answering questions about past peoples relies on cultural anthropology because it provides grounding in understanding humanity’s diversity. Although archaeologists should develop their own purely archaeological theories, we cannot escape the historical reality that archaeological theories largely derive from anthropology. To highlight the relevance of cultural anthropology to scientific archaeology, I provide an example from my own work on molecular analysis of materials from an ancient Olmec (ca. 650 B.C.E.) feasting midden from San Andrés, Tabasco, Mexico. Ethnographic information about general Mesoamerican feasting practices provided for patterns observed using molecular analysis. It also allowed me to develop a deeper understanding of the significance of such events in the wider Olmec cultural system.

Program Number: 5-0365
Session Title: SPEAKING THE SAME LANGUAGE: BRIDGING THE EVER-GROWING DISCIPLINARY DIVIDE BETWEEN CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY AND ARCHAEOLOGY
Session Sponsor: Archaeology Division
Session Date/Time: Sun., 10:15 AM-12:00 PM
Organizer(s): IVY HEPP (Florida State University) 
Chair(s): IVY HEPP (Florida State University)  
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