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The Limitations of Inference in Archaeology

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Part of the The Springer Series in Underwater Archaeology book series (SSUA)

Abstract

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.

Keywords

  • Archaeological Evidence
  • Political Authority
  • Archaeological Material
  • Historical Reality
  • Archaeological Interpretation

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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References

  1. Archaeology as a Social Science. Inaugural Lecture. 3rd Annual Report, 1946, London University Institute of Archaeology, p. 58, 1947.

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  2. The Study of Prehistory. An Inaugural Lecture, p. 13. 1954.

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  3. Archaeology from the Earth, pp. 2-3, 1954.

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  4. What Matters in Archaeology. Antiquity, XXIV, Sept. 1950, pp. 128 and 130.

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  5. Ibid, p. 130.

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  6. American Anthropologist, Vol. 56. No. 2, Pt. 1, April 1954, pp. 161-162.

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  7. Coral Gardens and Their Magic, 1935.

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© 1998 Springer Science+Business Media New York

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Smith, M.A. (1998). The Limitations of Inference in Archaeology. In: Babits, L.E., Van Tilburg, H. (eds) Maritime Archaeology. The Springer Series in Underwater Archaeology. Springer, Boston, MA. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4899-0084-5_22

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4899-0084-5_22

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Boston, MA

  • Print ISBN: 978-0-306-45331-1

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-4899-0084-5

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