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History and Archaeology Bulletin Board 2000

Re: History and Archaeology

Posted by Carol Ann Caronia on April 08, 2000 at 14:33:23:

In Reply to: Re: History and Archaeology posted by Phil Levy on February 24, 2000 at 20:54:51:

I recently listened to a long lecture series from the Learning Company on Medieval History, given by Dr. Teofilo Ruiz, then of Brooklyn College. I wished I had been there live during one particular lecture, because I have never been a docile student and a statement he made during that lecture left questions and comments burning on my lips.

Ruiz said there was no way to know what the population density of Medieval Europe was. Why, I thought to myself, he means that history has not left us census tracts, because I am confident that using interdisciplinary methods a really good estimate of the population of any area might be made.

When historians in today's world criticize archaeology, the are perforce also criticizing the microbiologists, the geologists, the linguists, etc, nearly ad infinitum, who may participate in the analyzation of any given site's excavation. and while archaeology may be considered more of an interpretational science than history (where many things are indeed written in stone), a softer science, one can hardly consider the dna analysis of faunal remains the same way.

Today's archaeological investigations must by force be more interdisciplinary than ever before. The mere cost of such excavations demands that every iota of information should be extracted from a site. The destruction of that same site in the course of excavation means that even the very dirt should be put under a microscope. Historians logically should want to bring all available information to light when considering what the record says and what it means. They would be well served to not only recognize but embrace a methodology which synthesizes other disciplines, archaeology included, as this approach will only grow in importance in scientific universe of increasing specialization.

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