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The Nature of Scientific Experimentation in Archaeology: Experimental Archaeology from the Nineteenth to the mid Twentieth Century

TitleThe Nature of Scientific Experimentation in Archaeology: Experimental Archaeology from the Nineteenth to the mid Twentieth Century
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsFORREST, C.
EditorCUNNINGHAM, P., J. HEEB, and R. P. PAARDEKOOPER
Book TitleExperiencing Archaeology By Experiment
CityOxford
PublisherOxbow Books
Pages61-68
Publication LanguageEnglish
ISBN Number978-1-84217-342-8
Abstract

The ‘experimental’ element of archaeology was born in the great scientific explosion of the nineteenth century taking place in disciplines such as archaeology, geology and anthropology. The roots of experimental archaeology are therefore not shallow at all, although oft en balanced between ‘mainstream’ or ‘amateur’. The lay status of the amateur expert and public performance of experimental archaeology seem to have diminished its credibility as either academic or professional. However, amateur involvement in experimental archaeology can off er a powerful link between the academic community and the public at the same time as enhancing a particular form of archaeological interpretation. The growth of professional, scientific archaeology since the 1960s has changed the contribution made by the amateur tradition. Accessibility to everyone has grown. The role of the museum has changed to include a greater engagement with the public on an intellectual and physical level. Participation and interaction is indicative of the ‘changing tastes and preoccupations of the audiences’. The rapid development of the number of archaeological open air centres is very important to
experimental archaeology.
The very success of public engagement in experimental archaeology is one of the main reasons that experimental archaeology has not always been fully accepted as a serious part of academic archaeology.

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