side relations in the ancient world without incorporating results of archaeological field surveys. If we only take a look at the situation in the Netherlands today, all departments of ancient history, without exception, are closely collaborating with archaeologists, and are integrating archaeological data intheirresearchprojects.If we want to get a sense of how classical archaeology ischanging, we only need to go through the themes covered inthe 20 years of the
Tijdschrift van Mediterrane Archeologie
, whose jubilee we celebrate in this issue: titles such as
Gender,Kolonialisme, Culturele confrontaties, Wonen in de Oudheid,Het Mediterrane Landschap
,etc.giveagoodindicationofthechanging emphases and interests in the discipline over thelastdecades.To conclude: classical archaeology is not a privileged andseparatefieldofstudy,norisitinsulatedfromwiderdevelop-ments in archaeology. But – and this is the crux of my argu-ment- it is different from other branches of archaeology. Ishould emphasize that it is not better than or superior toother forms of archaeology – it is simply different. In my mind, its difference lies in two inherent components of clas-sicalarchaeology:theweightoftheclassicaltraditionandthesignificance of written sources. Precisely because of the usesand abuses of classical antiquity over several centuries, classi-cal archaeologists are much more sensitive to the ways theirdiscipline has been formed by prevailing ideas, changing mentalities and divergent academic traditions; indeed thehistoriographyofclassicalarchaeologyisproducingworksofa subtletyanderuditionnotparalleledinequivalentaccountsof prehistory.
Many prehistorians may still believe that theirdiscipline is objective, scientific and impervious to ideologicalfactors, social distortions, or gender bias. According to suchviews, the way archaeology is being practiced today is guidedby practical, common-sense considerations. Classical archae-ologistsknowbetter;they(oratleast,manyofthem)havelostthis kind of innocence a while ago.The significance of written sources, and the integration of archaeological and historical data are complex problems, which cannot be discussed at length here. Needless to say,historical sources contain several biases: they were written by and for the male, urban, educated minority; they reproducethe distortions and biases of the specific literary or historicalgenre; they are the product of their own
rather thana faithful or accurate description of past events; their preser-vation and coverage is dramatically uneven. This is allundoubtedly true, but we archaeologists also need to be awareof the biases inherent in our own evidence: the problems of preservation, representativeness, equifinality – but more thananything else, the ambivalence of material data. In addition,the very definition of written sources is undergoing a trans-formationatthemoment,aspapyri,graffiti,inscriptionsandcoins become more widely used as sources of information. I will return to this point below, where I will try to demon-strate that written sources and material data do not necessar-ily offer incompatible readings of the past. In fact, I wouldlike to argue that they
be used in combination.Effectively, my point is that written sources can prove invalu-able,
they themselves are treated as archaeological artefacts –that is, if they are placed in their archaeological, historical andsocial context.
Before I start my discussion about the changes that havetakenplaceinclassicalarchaeologyoverthelastfourdecades,IshouldclarifythatIemployaratherloosedefinitionofclas-sical archaeology: I include the archaeology of different peri-ods (from prehistory to the Roman period) as practiced by Greek and foreign archaeologists in the Greek lands (whichencompassGreece,westernTurkeyandsouthernItaly).I will first present the changes in method, and will thendiscuss the changes in theoretical outlook. Of course, thetwo are interdependent: our interpretations are shaped by the analytical techniques we use, which are guided by thekind of questions we ask, which in their turn are dictated by ourtheoreticalchoices.
Classical archaeologists no longer spend most of their timegazingatancienttemples,ordepictionsofsatyrsonared-fig-ure vase. Connoisseurship, attribution to artists, andaestheticizing descriptions are still components of the disci-pline, but many classical archaeologists now use very differ-ent data, acquired by means of very different methods.Classical archaeology long ago emancipated itself from phi-lology; by now it has also liberated itself from the close gripofarthistory.Moreandmorepurelyarchaeologicalmethods,as well as innovative scientific techniques are being used. Icannot do justice to all these methodological developmentsin a short paper; I will only refer to some examples I haveencounteredinmyownresearch.I do not need to say much about the new methodsused tosurvey past landscapes, as an entire section of this volume isdevoted to field survey and the way it has revolutionized ourunderstanding of land use in the past. We now have at ourdisposal a new and constantly expanding dataset for thehuman occupation, utilization and organisation of the land-scape. This allows us to observe changes through time, as wellas diversity in practices between different regions. Although a lot remains to be done, the Greek lands (and the Mediterra-nean as a whole) are becoming one of the most intensively investigated areas of the world. As a consequence, classicalarchaeologists are at the forefront of methodological refine-