You are on page 1of 4

Archaeology- Assessment One Discuss the problems associated with the study of the evolution of complex societies.

Due: Monday 23rd April, 12- 4pm- Sophie office. Word count: 2000- 10% deviation.
Use three sources: - Chapter7: The Evolution of Complex Societies, Wenke, Olszewski. - Chapter 1, 2: The Study of Civilisation, Theories of States, Scarre, Fagan. The attempt to understand their evolution means to understand the singular and differing pahses by which these prehistoric civilisations evolved, - problems associated with cross- study / lump categorization – cross- cultural comparison and ethnographic analogy  analysing and comparing them implies hat they can be organized into categories which applies analytical significance- then use their similarities and differences to focus on their determinants of cultural variation  similarities between all civilisations may be the result of lump categorization and the use inexact terms such as bands, states, etc ( such names also based upon modern societies which we base ancient civilisations upon) – as there were great variations between  varying different interpretations towards the definitions of the different stages of ‘evolution’  almost all archaeologists still continue to think of archaeological record in terms that there a four basic societies- these abstractions may fit no exclusive case, expecially in regards to ancient societies,however they are convenient summaries of the kinds of social differences that archaeologists think were involved in the evolution of complex societies.       romantic perceptions/ modern perceptions influence analysis cpper eskimo, African pygmies, Kalahari bushmen, auustralian aboriginies- ancient civilisations of similar lifestyles probably exhibited far less contamination than modern ‘band societies’ archaeologists an never be sure about applying this model of a band society to the archaeological data that remains idea of functional redundancy to functional inderpendence- as a means of evolution of complex societies how similar are 9or were0 these ethnographically described groups to our hunter- forager ancestors tribe- band- state- ambiguous term based upon modern preconceptions of societies which show the similar trait of being functionally redundant to what extent can we extrapolate from recent and present societies to the past elman service, Morton fried – through their ethnographic formulaes derived principally to explain and classify modern cultures the use of their ideas widely applied to ancient civilisations- which is misleading as every hunter- gatherer society today has been influences by some degree by contact from more advanced civilisations attempt to categorise societies within a ‘continuum’ so as to allow for further analysis - may prevent a ‘true understanding’

economic structures and political systems all largely independent cases of the evolution of cultural complexity happened before any written languages had been developed. matter and energy exchange. arguments/ discussions primary and secondary sources issues involving the understanding of ancient civilisations what defines a complex society arguments over their categorisation and what defines a: state.however should not be considered the ultimate criteria an abstract view would be to categorise human societies in terms of piety.     limited datd. technologies.and only archaeological record due to lack of written language means limited understanding nature of archaeology limited primarily to artifacts treatment of people as objects – classification of thousands of societies in terms of their inferred social stratification. ‘justice’ or other abstract and important concepts there would be seen a very different ordering of societies – different from discussion about triggers analysis concerned with cultural complexity  Referencing Style: Harvard system.research tactic with the goal of understanding the evolution and the development of complex societies.tries to explain the rise of civilisations in terms of their environment.much analysis relies upon archaeological data use of comparartive anakysis analysis of civlisations with the presumption that they are all fundamentally alike.                    must focus on problems concerning the study provide varying different interpretations. etc . Do the similarities and differences exhibited by various extinct cultures offer the raw material for some kind of scientific analysis of history or do they simply represent gross analogies amongst societies that were incommensurable and that can only be analysed in their unique histories and characteristics? Another issue trying to analyse the ideologies of extinct human groups on the basis of their material archaeological record Karl marx. economies.sees very little difference between the civilisations except or their art styles and cultural values Why were they so similar? Premise that the science of histort can be developed on the basis of comparative analysis under attack Gross similarities in environments and technologies.Karl Marx Trigger. social cohesiveness. size and the complexity of information.gatherer way of life why were civilisations so much alike in socio. etc why did simple farmes remain so instead of reverting to hunter.that they an both be considered members of the same class of political entities and that they could be analysed and understood in the same terms attempt to categorise all cultures and explain their similarities and differences.which results in in the product of civlisations being ‘similar’.

operation cannot understand or comprehend whether the great complexity integration that makes societies ‘efficent’ and productive can be achieved without the stimulus of individual and corporate competitiveness. social cohesiveness.illusions? ‘noble savages’.research tactic. size and their complexity of information. without socioeconomic competiveness without socioeconomic inequalities issues of cross.romantic visions.different from the discussion about triggers’ analysis concerned with cultural complexity Nature of archaeological data. ‘justice’.ethnographic categories formulated – devised principly to classify the diversity of extent and recent culture Their ideas have been widely applied by recent archaeologists to prehistoric societies Use of ethnographic data to categorise ancient societies. or other abstract but important concepts There would be seen a very different ordering of societies.organised patterns of sharing and co.misleading .limited primarily to artifcts Analysis of modern day hunter.forager but other people who live in social organisations and with economies that may resemeble these of our extinct ancestors Elman service and Morton fried. matter and energy exchanges.cultural comparisions and ethnographic analogy analysing different societies and comparing them implies that they can be organised into categories to allow analytical significance. Archaeologists have been heavily influenced in conceptions of ancient cultural complexity by ethnographs who not just study hunter.                        Coercive socio-political elite Problems with trying to study the origins and dynamics of the evolution of these completely different belief.gatherer tribes as the basis for ancestors way of life .with the goal of understanding the evolution and development of these complex societies Should not be considered as the ultimate criteria An abstract view would be to categorise human societies in terms of their piety.systems Not every society can be analysed as following the same continuum of development Ancient societies cannot fit exactly Difficult in coming to terms with their perceptions of the relative virtues of types of societies Confusion of cultural complexity and cultural worth Difficult to avoid the notions that civilisations have emerged because of their special gifts and vitality of their populaces Treatment of people as objects Classification of thousands of societies in terms of their inferred social stratification.then to use their similarities and differences to focus on the determinants of cultural variation to what extent can we extrapolate from recent and present societies to the past.

    As every hunter. But almost all archaeologists continue to think of archaeological record in terms that there are four basic types of societies Abstractions that may fit to no case.social typologies and taxonomies are a hindrance to good archaeological analysis.gatherer society to date has been influenced to some degree by contact of more advanced societies prior to ethnographic study In some ways.as they inexactly lump together societies on the basis of unsustained and sometimes irrelevant criteria.especially with regards to extinct societies.  . however they are convenient summaries of the kinds of social differences and archaeologists think were involved in the evolution of complex societies.