Social Archaeology

Social ArchaeologyDr. Nicole Taylor  | Tel. 880.2333 | Room: 143 | Current lectures (UnivIS)

⇐ Professorship of Prehistoric Archaeology

The main points of interest of social archaeology play an important role in the teachings and research of the institute. The construction of social space, the genesis of social inequality and the representation of these differences in networks and central locations are examined. The constants of production, distribution and consumption in human societies offer opportunities to recognize social historical processes and changes of material culture in transformation processes.
More recent points of interest in social archaeology include examining aspects of individual and group identities and social interactions: How do individuals and groups experience and influence their own societies? Which social processes are then put into motion? How do these processes then effect the individual or group? Moreover, social archaeology deals with the question of how much practical archaeology constructs narratives of the past and how these can and do influence modern societies. Our institute encourages in our students a consciousness and reflective use of these mechanisms while taking these issues into account.

Theories in Archaeology

“theory exists, in however unsatisfactory a form, in everything that an archaeologist does regardless of region, material, period and culture…It is this pervasive, central and international aspect of archaeological theory, multiplied by its current weakness, which makes the whole issue of major importance in the further development of the discipline.”

Kopfarbeit(Clarke 1973: 17-18)

Every time that archaeologists make a decision during examination, treatment and interpretation of archaeological remains, they do this based on specific theoretical concepts. The decisions that we make during our studies of the past are theoretically preformed by our own social environment and our academic context, whether this becomes obvious or not. The more important it is that our teachings and research are conducted in an environment that deals openly with our theoretical preferences, conjectures and even possibilities. Instead of letting ourselves being guided by the theoretically implicated "common sense" which per se is highly subjective, a reflective dealing with theories allows our research to be aware of our own preconceptions and to deal with these in an academically responsible way. This way we come into contact with more models, hypotheses, methodical work and interpretations, especially from neighboring disciplines such as anthropology, sociology, psychology, history, geography and natural sciences.