British Pioneers and Fieldwork Traditions
From its antiquarian origins, the development of field method in Britain reflects attempts by archaeologists to balance the merits of survey against excavation, research against rescue, and empiricism against theorized interpretation. While early methods lacked consistency, most were based on a modified form of empiricism known as inductivism: observations in the field gathered together to create interpretative statements (Marsden 1983). Richard Colt Hoare (1758–1838), excavator of more than 500 sites in the early 1800s, memorably summed up the position by declaring that “We speak from facts not theory” as the epigraph to Ancient Wiltshire published between 1812 and 1820. Importantly, a community of practice emerged to foster a network of amenity societies.
The late nineteenth century was a watershed in the development of archaeological fieldwork. Positivism strengthened as the preferred philosophy, suiting archaeology well by perpetuating distinctions between “facts” as things that...
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