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Title: The development and application of a Heideggerian phenomenological methodology for the analysis of human engagement in field-based experimental archaeology : a case study from the reconstruction of an Iron Age roundhouse in Wales
Author: Townend, Stephen Dennis
ISNI:       0000 0001 3535 7120
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2005
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Phenomenological approaches in archaeology are often accused by their detractors of lacking an explicitly articulated method and being centred on first-person 'subjective' accounts. As a result, phenomenological research is perceived to lack rigour, data and accountability. This thesis addresses these concerns through the development of a phenomenological methodology created to address the failure of experimental archaeology to account for those who take part in experimental projects and their influence on the theory, practice and explanations of such projects. For its philosophical basis, the project draws on the thinking of Martin Heidegger, particularly Division I of his major work Being and Time (1962). This thinking is explored and developed in the context of the practice of roundhouse reconstruction. It is translated into a methodology to identify, examine and interpret the phenomena associated with everyday practice in the carrying out of skilled tasks in relation to a particular project. For its grounding in the world, the research analyses the reconstruction of a large roundhouse a Castell Henllys Iron age Fort. This analysis, through an explicitly Heideggerian phenomenological methodology, uses multi-media sources (video, audio, transcription, still images) and Qualitative Data Analysis software to generate qualitative, third-person phenomenological data on the experiences and contextual understandings of being involved in that reconstruction project. These experiences and understandings are then explored for their broader implications for the practice of field based experimental archaeology in general - and reconstruction practice in particular - and for interpreting the practice of building a roundhouse in the Iron Age in Britain. From the development and application of the methodology it is concluded that it is both possible and desirable to both create and express a phenomenological methodology and that contrary to popular belief, such studies can be rigorous and generate vast amounts of data that can be re-examined by others either repeating the method expressed or in different ways. In relation to reconstruction practice, it concludes that such practice is much more closely defined by those that take part in it than it is by 'scientific' methodological rigour and materials constraints, also that reconstruction is a deeply meaning giving practice and not at all 'neutral'. Finally, the thesis concludes that the phenomena observed in reconstruction practice would have been present in past building and that this leads one to consider that even this apparently mundane and everyday practice was deeply meaningful at every level, from an individual's ways of dealing with their tools, to overtly symbolic practices associated with the stages and layout of a roundhouse in the Iron Age.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available