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Title: An epistemology of archaeological excavation : a comparative study of British field practice
Author: Sandoval, Gustavo
ISNI:       0000 0004 9349 3181
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2020
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In recent decades, there has been a trend for increasing the number of written formats in excavation records. For example, this has implied the revival of excavation diaries and calls for the use methods based multiple types of standardized sheets (context and feature sheets). These ideas are grounded in the methodological premise that more complex recording systems will enable to produce higher-quality records that will include more interpretative and reflexive data. In general, these ideas have been widely considered in Britain where there is an important debate about field-methods. However, there is an important flaw in these views for being inconsistent with interpretative theory which suggests that interpretation and reflexivity depends on the epistemic context of an investigation. This study examined the primary records of the three British projects that implemented alternative recording strategies. These include, the excavation diaries from Catalhöyük recorded under the principles of the reflexive method. The context sheets from a commercial site in London. And the context and feature sheets from the explorations of a medieval site in Scotland, following the principles of the feature system. The goal of my investigation was to compare these sources to investigate whether the quality of records improved with a more complex method. Results show that reflexive diaries contain additional information not observed in other systems, but a lot of it is trivial. On the contrary, the analysis of context and feature sheets shows that these formats include multiple types of interpretative and reflexive information, but frequently these data are not reported within an adequate standard. Moreover, documental analysis demonstrates how the epistemic context of projects affects their interpretative results. Overall, this study creates a more promising scenario for an interpretative science that usually puts more confidence in the standardization and instrumentalization of practices rather than in the expertise of fieldworkers. Finally, my investigation suggests that there are good elements to re-formulate interpretative theory not only as an individual-based practice, but also as a collective exercise in which the interaction among team members is crucial for the investigation of sites.
Supervisor: Steve, Roskams Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available