The Limitations of Inference in Archaeology

  • M. A. Smith
Part of the The Springer Series in Underwater Archaeology book series (SSUA)


Most of the time of this Conference is being devoted to assessments by experts of different types, or aspects, of archaeological evidence. From their intimate knowledge of the particular fields they are able to point out to us both the shortcomings and the potentialities of the data that they study. An archaeologist, in interpreting his material, takes into account the results of all these, and of other particular studies that are relevant to his problem. What I want to do, alongside these specialist accounts, is to try to consider, in general, what sort of inferences an archaeologist can expect to make when he utilizes all this evidence to the full. We are here to discuss the reliability of archaeological evidence, but obviously before we can decide how far any type of evidence is reliable we have to know what it is supposed to be reliable for; in other words, we have to be clear what sort of problems archaeological evidence can legitimately be expected to answer.


Archaeological Evidence Political Authority Archaeological Material Historical Reality Archaeological Interpretation 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

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  • M. A. Smith

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