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Title: Encountering depths across surfaces : time and space in Archaeology
Author: Simonetti, Cristián
ISNI:       0000 0004 2726 1550
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis is an anthropological attempt to understand how land and underwater archaeologists develop expert knowledge in different environments. The research focuses on the relationship between experience and conceptualization, showing how archaeologists and other scientists studying the past have understood time in relation to space. The analysis relies on ethnographic work carried out with teams of Chilean and Scottish archaeologists, on a range of prehistoric and historic sites both submerged and on land. Most of the time, archaeologists have to explore and cross surfaces as they encounter a past hidden deep beneath them. I argue that the particular ways in which depths and surfaces are encountered has a major influence on how time and space are conceptualized within the discipline. Analysis of archaeologists’ use of temporal concepts in speech and gestures indicates that the past is sometimes understood as below the ground. Such understanding not only contrasts with the common western experience of the past as lying behind but also involves an idea of the past as suddenly coming to the fore. As archaeologists move forward (downward) into the future they also move forward into the past. This corresponds with a general understanding of chronologies as a vertical unfolding from bottom to top that, in western science, can be traced historically in disciplines such as geology, biology, archaeology, anthropology, linguistics, psychology and philosophy. Such verticality contrasts with the horizontality in which chronologies tend to be displayed in other disciplines that study the past, such as history. Here I trace some of these understandings of time, while drawing comparisons with non-western time concepts. The analysis provides important insights into the nature of disciplinary knowledge, arguing that it is ultimately impossible to divide conceptualization from experience and that, contrary to mainstream discourse, knowledge is neither discovered nor constructed, but grows.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available