Analogy in Archaeology

Ethnoarchaelogy, this was developed so that it could counter the setbacks of ethnographic analogy. In this case, though the archeologist is the one who goes out to find the ethnographies, data and material, he or she does not rely on the historical records that may be available like before (Thomas & Kelly, 2009, p.228). The archeologist though focuses on the behavior of this people and relates it to the remains or the evidence he has in hand, to come up with data that will be useful in his study. For example, Lewis Binford (1981), study of the Eskimos. He lived with them and observed their behavior, though they might have been using guns in the modern society he reasoned that some of their earlier behavior like in butchering of the animals was still conducted as it had been in the pre historic times. This information is then used to explain things about the hunter and gatherers of historic times and how they might have behaved.

This method did not work well as the archaeologist had anticipated the same problems and even new one emerged. For instance, there was biasness in the part of the archeologist because he saw what he wanted to see and in choosing the people to study he was also biased. In the Eskimo study for example, by Binford he did not observe the woman and did not acknowledge their activities. This method too suffers from the problem of very general analogies been drawn from the ethnographic records, that may not even cover the area of study.

Experimental archeology, this is a method of replaying what might have happen by physically acting it out, for example, having people act the way the hunters and gatherers wore and taking them to the bush to hunt and observing the manner in which they behave then recording (Fagan, 2009, p.138). This people who are involved in this method must have knowledge about the people they are trying to imitate and do their best to act as those who lived in the past may have acted. This information that is recorded is then used to make analogies between what is known and what is unknown so that we can learn about our materials or evidence.

This method has its advantage and its limitation too, the main advantage may be that one is able to relive that specific time that the ethnographic data would have been collected and they can detect things that may not have been able to be written, if the archaeologist had decided to read the data (Wylie, 1985). For the limitation, the people playing the part have not been raised and lived in that culture. Therefore, even if try hard to relive that time of human history they may not capture the actual picture that was portrayed. It is because of this the theory also presents biasness.

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