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Title: Interpreting artefactual deposition in East Mediterranean and Near Eastern archaeology
Author: Jackson, Adam
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2003
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This thesis is the outcome of a realisation that, within the East Mediterranean and Near East region, archaeological reconstructions of past societies and of major socio-political and economic transformations are often seriously limited by theoretical and practical shortcomings in the collection, analysis and interpretation of settlement data. In particular, there is a marked failure to account for site formation processes in the interpretation of artefacts and contexts, which is exacerbated by a failure to appreciate the limitations of the functionalism that is intrinsic to archaeological classifications and approaches. Chapter 2 begins with a review of the history of site formation research and a discussion of some of the biases in this research. The discussion includes a critique of the functionalist tenor of much of the extant work that employs modern values in the estimation of the utility and value of artefacts and materials. This is followed in Chapter 3 by a further critique of past and current theoretical frameworks that have informed archaeological approaches to the use and abandonment of space. Special emphasis is placed in the meanings and associations attached to artefacts and to their treatment on deposition. Chapter 4 outlines a method for the contextual analysis of artefactual deposition. Chapters 5, 6 and 7 comprise analyses of three case study sites that are used to illustrate the contention that archaeological interpretations of settlement space, which are founded on the assumption of in situ deposition and of function, are suspect. It is argued that the examination of the differential treatment of artefacts and of contexts at their abandonment is a more fruitful avenue of investigation. Each of the study sites, while being unique, is considered as representative of other archaeological situations involving burnt open settlements, circumscribed dense built environments and eroded ephemeral occupations. In Chapter 8, discussion focuses on the implications of this study for wider archaeological understandings of cultures and socio-cultural change. A series of well-known sites and studies from the East Mediterranean and Near East region are briefly considered in the light of the conclusion that the operation of formation processes has a profound effect on the character of the settlement record and, consequently, on archaeological reconstructions of past societies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available