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Trigger

Trigger

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Archaeology at the Crossroads: What's New?Author(s): Bruce G. TriggerSource:
Annual Review of Anthropology,
Vol. 13 (1984), pp. 275-300Published by:
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Accessed: 01/12/2010 13:04
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available athttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained athttp://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=annrevs.Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.
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 Annual Review of  Anthropology.
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Ann. Rev.Anthropol.1984. 13:275-300Copyright K1984byAnnualReviews Inc. Allrightsreserved
ARCHAEOLOGYAT THECROSSROADS:WHAT'SNEW?
BruceG.Trigger
DepartmentofAnthropology,McGillUniversity,Montreal, Quebec,H3A2T7,Canada
Isarchaeologynserioustrouble,or does it stand onthe thresholdofbrilliantnewaccomplishments?Many prehistoricarchaeologistsview withconsider-abletrepidationhevaried andseemingly disparatedirections inwhichtheirdiscipline appearsobedeveloping.Thereisalsogrowing uncertaintyaboutthetheoreticalpropositionsrelatingto human behavior that haveguidedtheinterpretationfarchaeologicaldataforthepast25years.Yet at thesame timeacrimoniousdebatesareyieldingtoprofitabledialogues,whilearchaeologyasa wholeiscomingtoappearlesssectarian within thebroadercontext ofanthropology59-62, 120, 137).All ofthemajorchangesthataretakingplacewithrespectto theinterpretationfarchaeologicaldata influenceto somedegreetherelationshipbetweenarchaeologyandsocioculturalanthropology.To understandwherecurrentdevelopments maylead itisthereforeworthconsideringhow these trendshavealreadyalteredherelationshiphatBinfordand Clarke defined between thesedisciplinesin theearly 1960s (10, 11, 43).Payingmoreexplicitattentiono thisrelationshipmayalsohelp archaeologiststocopemoreeffectivelywith theproblems being posed bytheunparalleledaccumulation ofarchaeologicaldata(76),theacceleratingdestruction ofarchaeologicalsites(186),and theproliferationofexpensiveand time-consumingnewtechniquesoranalyzingarchaeologicaldata. Itmayalsoassistinfinding "compatiblegoalsand field methods" that willbring cultural re-sourcemanagementand academicarchaeologyclosertogether (61, p. 431).In the 1950s and 1960sprehistoricarchaeologistsmphasizedhesimilaritiesbetween theirfield and the restofanthropology 10,188, pp. 1-7). Today,whetherarchaeologyandethnologyor socialanthropologyarethoughtofasseparatedisciplinesor as two branchesofanthropology,t isonceagain beingacknowledgedhatthey exploitdifferentcategoriesofdata,whichdifferentiate2750084-6570/84/1015-0275$02.00
 
276 TRIGGERwhat each cando andhowit does it(16; 18,pp.19-26; 43;62, p. 528;150).Ethnologistscanstudydirectlythecompleterangeofhumanbehavior.Theycan documenthe total extent of materialcultureatevery stageofitsmanufac-ture, use, anddisposal. Theycan alsoobserve how humanbeingsbehaveandthrough hemedium oflanguagelearnsomethingabout otherpeople'sbeliefsandaspirations. Archaeologistscanstudyonlythematerialculturethathassurvivedvariedandoftenpoorlyunderstoodprocessesofculturalecycling andnaturaldestructiono becomepartof thearchaeologicalrecord.It isnow alsowidelyacknowledgedhatbecause of thereuseanddisposalof artifactsprior otheirbecomingpartofthearchaeologicalrecord,archaeologicaldatarevealeven less abouthow artifacts were usedthanwasformerlybelieved.Yet ifarchaeologymust bebased toaconsiderabledegreeon thestudyofrefuse,itisgenerally agreedthatifit is to haveanybroadsignificanceit muststriveto bemore than ascience ofgarbage.Theprincipalchallengethathasalwaysfacedarchaeologistshasbeentoinfer humanbehavior and ideas frommaterialculture.Itis noweffectivelyarguedthatrealizingthatgoalrequiresa detailedunderstandingofthearchaeologicalcontexts fromwhichdata are recoveredandalso of thesystem-aticrelationshipsbetween materialcultureandbehavior.Binfordhaslabelledgeneralizationsof the latter sortmiddle-range heory (13, 17).Hisdistinctionbetweenmiddle-range heory,whichsuppliesarchaeologistswithbehavioralinformation,andgeneraltheories,thatseek toexplainculturalchange,whilechallengedon theoreticalgrounds 165, p.36),isofgreatpracticalmportancebecause itdistinguishesheoreticalproblemshat are ofparticularnterestonlytoarchaeologistsrom thosewhichare ofgeneralnterest o the socialsciences.Socialanthropologistshavegenerallynot botheredtosearchforregularitiesbetween materialcultureandhumanbehaviorsincetheycan observe thelatterdirectly.Inrecentyearsthishas led anincreasingnumberofarchaeologistsodoethnographic esearch,under the rubricofethnoarchaeology 14, 80,81,105, 197).This involvessearchingorregularitieshatwillpermithemtoinferhuman behavior fromarchaeologicaldata.Suchanallocationofresources isparticularlydifficult at atimewhenthearchaeologicalrecord isbeingthreatenedwithdestructionasneverbefore.Yet whatarchaeologyacksinthelimitedvarietyofits data iscompensatedforbyitsabilitytostudychangeoverlong periodsoftime.Ethnologyslimitedbythe natureof itsdata tothepresentor the nearpresent,although byusingexternal sources ofinformation,such ashistorical records or oraltraditions,some timedepthmaybeobtained. Wherespecificgroupshave beenrestudied,ethnographicield notes andmonographsalso becomehistorical sources. Yeteven underthebestconditions, ethnologistscanstudy change onlyoververyshortperiodsof time.Only by usinghistoricalandarchaeologicaldata,isitpossibletostudyactualprocessesofchangethatoccuroverlong periods (18, p.194; 33).

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