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CRITICISMS OF ETHNOGRAPHIC ANALOGY. Depresses Time and Denies Change The Problem of “Equifinality” Many paths to the same outcome Is the archaeological record “frozen Behavior”? Can we directly translate archaeological expressions into meaning social, political, or ritual patterns?

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criticisms of ethnographic analogy

CRITICISMS OF ETHNOGRAPHIC ANALOGY

Depresses Time and Denies Change

The Problem of “Equifinality”

Many paths to the same outcome

Is the archaeological record “frozen Behavior”?

Can we directly translate archaeological expressions into meaning social, political, or ritual patterns?

Binford’s definition of the archaeological record as static and contemporary. Translate statics into past dynamics

slide2

Is the Archaeological record like Pompeii

ARCHAEOLOGISTS DECIDE TO EVALUATE THIS QUESTION

slide3
SEVERAL METHOLOGICAL APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OFTHE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ARTIFACTS AND MEANINGFUL CULTURAL BEHAVIOR
  • RECORD FORMATION PROCESSES
  • MID-RANGE THEORY
  • ETHNOARCHAEOLOGY
slide4

New archaeologists committed to anthropological archaeology. But before you could address questions about culturally meaningful behavior, the nature of the archaeological record had to be investigated

Here’s the problem:

1. The archaeological record is composed of artifacts on the surface and buried. Those artifacts are “static”, meaning they don’t interact.

2. New archaeologists are interested in what people do and how they do it ( that’s active or dynamic). The question is how to move from statics to dynamics?

3. And before you do that you have to consider whether the archaeological record has changed over time.

record formation processes
RECORD FORMATION PROCESSES

Several components to this model:

  • The systematic relationship between artifact acquisition, production, use , discard and the formation of the archaeological record. Schiffer wants to know the relationship between life histories of artifacts, the archaeological record, and cultural behavior

B) Breaks culture down into a set of activities that transform material into something useful track the life histories of artifacts

C) differentiates kinds of artifact contexts SYSTEMIC CONTEXT

ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONTEXT

assumptions that schiffer makes to construct systemic and archaeological context
ASSUMPTIONS THAT SCHIFFER MAKESTO CONSTRUCT SYSTEMIC AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONTEXT
  • CULTURE IS A SYSTEM ( HAVE YOU HEARD THAT BEFORE?)
  • HUMAN ACTIVITY IS A TRANSFORMATION OF ENERGY THAT TYPICALLY INVOLVES ARTIFACTS
  • ARE THERE OTHERS? WHAT ABOUT ARCHAEOLOGICAL LAWS?
slide8

WHAT ARE RECORD FORMATION PROCESSES?WHEN DO THEY OPERATE?WHY DO ARCHAEOLOGISTS STUDY THEM?WHAT IS SCHIFFER’S ULTIMATE GOAL? WHAT DOES HE WANT TO “RECONSTRUCT?

mid range research binford s methology for linking statics to dynamics
MID-RANGE RESEARCHBinford’s methology for linkingStatics to Dynamics

Research with the Nunamiut at Anatuvak Pass

what is mid range theory it s not general theory
What is Mid-Range Theory?IT’S Not general Theory
  • Because the archaeological record is contemporary, can not know the past directly. Can only know the past indirectly through “static” artifacts
  • Required to make that linkage are observations, experiments, and analysis designed to link the present statics with past dynamics:

record formation

ethnoarchaeology, experimental archaeology

questions regarding mid range theory based on the binford article
Questions regarding Mid-Range Theory[based on the Binford article]
  • What are the goals of Binford’s article: Dimensional Analysis of Behavior and Site Structure?
  • Does Binford build a model to address these goals? Or does he address through the analysis of a single place
  • What are expedient artifacts? What are curatedartifacts?
  • Is Schiffer’s distinction between systemic and archaeological context relevant to this article? How
  • What is the site function of the Mask site? Is there a relationship between site function and artifact deposition?
  • Is Binford’s approach to the relationship between cultural activity and artifact different than Schiffer’s? How?
  • What does Binford want to explain?
culture process general systems theory
Culture Process: General Systems Theory

The goal of Culture Process: To create explanations of culture change…. THE CAUSES OF CULTURE CHANGE

Systems Theory (or General Systems Theory) was the initial model that was used to construct explanations.

So: we need to ask what is system? And how is that definition built into the structure of systems theory

definitions
Definitions
  • A System: A bounded entity that is made up of component parts. The parts of “interdependent”. That means that the action of one component affects the action of another.
  • All components of a system have boundary conditions. This means that each component has a range within which they operate Because all components have a range, the system itself has a range within which it can operate.
  • Homeostasis: maintenance of a system within its boundary conditions
  • Postive feedback: component deviations are amplified
    • This can change the system
  • Negative feedback: Component deviations are depressed and system is maintained at the current or previous state
systems theory more definitions
SYSTEMS THEORY, MORE DEFINITIONS
  • This definition of system is functional.
    • Function: as in each component solves a problem
    • Function: as in each component has a goal—
      • Keep the system running… human adaptive system
  • CULTURE AS A SYSTEM
    • Components, many of which are not observable archaeologically
    • Each of those components have goals and boundary conditions
    • The system has goal---- human survival
slide16

Archaeological Systems Theory Model

Outputs----Change

Culture T1

Inputs:

Environment

Subsistence

Settlement

Population

Culture T2

how does a cultural systems theory cause change
HOW DOES A CULTURAL SYSTEMS THEORY CAUSE CHANGE?
  • System change caused by one or more components exceeding their boundary conditions ( positive feedback)
  • But what throws a component out of equilibrium? New Archaeologists relied on external causes:
    • Climate change, population growth, resource depletion.
systems theory in mesoamerica
Systems Theory in Mesoamerica

What is the role of Systems Theory in this article?

What are the causes of change from hunting and gathering to agriculture?

Why do Mesoamerican macrobands become sedentary?

Kent Flannery

strengths of systems theory explanations
Strengths of Systems Theory Explanations
  • A major improvement over culture historical explanations of change :invasion, independent invention, or diffusion
  • Provided a framework for discussing new adaptation: agriculture or the evolution of the state.
weaknesses of systems theory
Weaknesses of Systems Theory
  • Causes of change were external (And Post-processualists really really disliked this aspect)
  • System size and complexity required ‘major’ events to result in change
  • Description of how change occurs; not why
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