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Paradigms, Systematics, and Archaeology Author(s): Lewis R. Binford and Jeremy A. Sabloff Source: Journal of Anthropological Research, Vol.

38, No. 2 (Summer, 1982), pp. 137-153 Published by: University of New Mexico Stable URL: Accessed: 19/03/2009 16:41
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* NUMBER 2 * SUMMER * 1982


Lewis R. Binford and Jeremy A. Sabloff
Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131 The ways archaeologists view the past-their paradigms-directly influence their interpretations of the archaeological record. Paradigm change need not be irrational or undirected; such change can best be accomplished by focusing attention on the various ways that dynamic cultural processes can be linked with the static archaeological record.

THE ASSUMPTION THAT SCIENTISTS are capable of clearing their minds and achieving total objectivity is basic to the strict empiricist ideas which dominated early science.1 Boasian anthropology in the United States, and most of the intellectual background of archaeology in general, was founded on this belief in strict empiricism and in the old, Baconian idea of "psychological" objectivity: one simply cleared one's mind of bias and allowed the great truths of nature to be uncovered through the vehicle of one's "bias-free" mind. Such were the views dominating the "great days" when "discoveries" were considered to be the products of a science whose mission was to accumulate and inventory "natural facts." But starting in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century, logical positivists challenged the idea that an "objective" observer is capable of seeing nature directly and accurately. Instead, these philosophers distinguished between the process of discovery (gathering facts and generating theories) and the process of evaluation (of theories used to account for these "facts"). They therefore sought to develop methods largely dependent upon deductive forms of reasoning for evaluating ideas that were already in existence. They also recommended that scientists predict causal occurrences (i.e., if A, then by necessity B) and then test these predictions against the facts. Anthropology, and more particularly archaeology, was relatively slow in absorbing the implications of logical-positivist thinking. In the 1960s, many archaeologists (often labeled "new archaeologists") reacted to the strict empiricism of their colleagues by suggesting that the field at least catch up with the changes in other sciences, i.e., acknowledge the fallacy of being able to achieve "psychological objectivity." New archaeologists argued that the discipline should adopt logicalpositivist methods or develop ones of its own (see Binford 1972; Spaulding 1968). At about the same time that these suggestions for updating archaeological epistomology were being made, some interesting ideas were percolating in the philosophy



of science. Perhaps the most influential of these was the thesis of Thomas Kuhn (1962a, 1962b) that one should distinguish between paradigm and theory. A paradigm is one's world view, translating one's experience into meaningful statements. A theory is an argument one makes about why the world is patterned in a particular form. Through arguments involving necessary linkages between classes of data, theory makes prediction possible. Theory is thus derived from one's paradigm: it is a subset of it. Kuhn's argument amounts to a very explicit recognition of the position that meaning comes from humans, that conceptualizations of experience are our inventions, and that nature does not dictate the meanings we assign to it. It recognizes further that when we seek to explain nature through theories, we are seeking to explain our conceptualization of nature, rather than some objective, "true" nature such as Sir Francis Bacon thought himself capable of seeing directly. Kuhn's thesis clearly was significant. He implied that while the logical positivists had recognized that the source of ideas was subjective, they had sought to evaluate these admittedly subjective inventions by referral back to experience, through the use of "objective" observational methods. Kuhn's thesis suggested that this was a fallacy. Objectivity is not attainable either inductively or deductively. Rather, one's observational means for conceptualizing experience are rooted in one's paradigm. The testing of theories was thus an illusion, ultimately bound by paradigmatic subjectivity. Falsification and theory testing as advocated by the logical positivists were thus mere puzzle solving, and were not acknowledged as capable of advancing the paradigm. It is our reading of Kuhn's argument, as well as that of many other critics, that he viewed paradigmatic change as resulting from the irrational interaction of one's domain of thought with other domains. He suggested that such change was responsive to "historical" trends in the wider intellectual domains of society. Science thus did not grow through rational progress but through the chance interaction between investigatory games played out inside a paradigm-bound discipline and "noisy" intellectual conditions outside the discipline, which tended to modify the paradigm under scrutiny (see, for example, Kuhn 1962b:77-78, 1970:208).2 What is interesting in these developments is that the very paradigmatic distinctions which Kuhn so insightfully introduced were ignored by many who have accepted or elaborated his arguments (see, for example, Feyerabend 1975; Toulmin 1972). These distinctions were (1) his conceptual separation of paradigms from theory, (2) his recognition that science may grow by changes in either, and (3) his assertion that logical positivism had not considered paradigmatic change. Having insisted that paradigms are an intellectual domain capable of being unaffected by debate about theory and that many different theories might be offered within the context of a single paradigm, Kuhn stated that paradigm change is not subject to development by methods of rational change. He linked this idea of "irrationality" to the very conceptual recognition of paradigms, and the argument for existential validity of the concept was then cited as rationale for a belief in the associated theory of irrational paradigm change. Such a linkage does not appear to be necessary at all. The challenge to science is to address directly the problem of developing methodological aids to paradigm change and evaluation, as well as the continued perfection of such aids for the evaluation and production of theories. In short, we may



accept Kuhnian insights regarding the importance of paradigms and their impact on our ideas of objectivity without accepting his particular approach to paradigm change. We may profitably explore alternative theories of change and seek to build into scientific procedure methods for encouraging rational paradigm growth. We believe that archaeologists today are in an excellent position to show how such rational paradigm growth can be achieved. The archaeological literature of the past two decades is replete with arguments which point out that if a major goal of the discipline is to explain culture change, then the traditional ways of looking at the past-the normative paradigms-have not been very productive. A new way of looking at the world, the systems paradigm (see Binford 1962) has been proposed as a potentially more productive means of reaching this explanatory goal. The question is, how should the discipline proceed in developing this (or any other) paradigm? This paper seeks to address the issue both as a first step in the direction of developing rational methods that will foster productive paradigm change and as a means of heightening archaeologists' awareness as to how difficult the challenge of science can be. As the senior author (Binford 1977:3) notes,
Science is a method or procedure that directly addresses itself to the evaluation of cultural forms. That is, if we view culture as at least referring to the particularly human ability to give meaning expediently to experience, to symbol, and in turn, view experience through this conceptual idiom, science is then concerned with evaluating the utility of the cultural tools produced. TWO VIEWS OF "CULTURE" Cultural "Cohesion" in Continuity: A New WorldParadigm

Archaeologists are often unaware of how their traditionally held paradigms influence their views of the past. Two such paradigms are presented here to illustrate their effect on archaeological systematics and interpretations. A view which developed largely in North America focuses on the continuity of culture (as manifest in material objects) over wide geographical areas. The perspective stems largely from early empirical studies of North American Indian culture as developed by Wissler (1914) and elaborated by Kroeber (1939). On the basis of comparative study of "culture traits" (particularly material aspects of culture) among certain American Indian groups, Wissler (1914:468) noticed that "while many have called attention to the intergradations of culture, few, for example, have considered the significance of the rarity of abrupt breaks in its continuity." He then pointed out that in known cases where identified "ethnic" groups, such as Cheyenne, Plains Cree, etc., moved from one region to another during historic times, they quickly assimilated to the "culture type" characteristic of the area into which they moved. In turn, they "lost" the culture traits not shared with the groups in their new setting. Wissler (1914:469;emphasis added) concluded that:
What evidence we have seems to indicate that by separating a tribe from a center [of a culture area] its material culture is made intermediate [between the form of its parent 'center' and the 'center' toward which it moved] and by joining a tribe to a center its culture is made typical. Hence, unless we find data to support the wholesale movement of a material culture center, we must assume stability of habitat during its historic life. We need not, however, assume stability as to its political, linguistic, and somatic unit constituents ... We have been long familiar with the lack of correlation between culture, language, and somatic type.



Throughout the writings of the founders of American anthropology, we find repeated emphasis that the "essential" feature of culture is that culture traits can be exchanged independently of race, language, or socio-political identity. As Wissler (1914:490) indicated, the one thing culture does not have is "cohesions" among units over time: "Tribal individuality appears only in decoration and a few inessential features, but even so is rarely restricted to a single tribe and tends toward a geographical rather than a random grouping." Basically, Wissler's view (which was shared with many other American anthropologists) was that continuities exist across geographical regions and through time as long as the environment stays roughly the same. Traits and complexes are free to move among the social, linguistic, racial, or other types of groups. Any cohesion, or tendency toward a stable association among elements of material culture, is a phenomenon of large geographical regions and relatively long life spans; not a phenomenon of social or ethnic units. The implication was that cultural dynamics must be understood in terms more comprehensive than simple interaction among persons or social units. Although this view was modified in North America and ultimately reduced to a "psychological" point of view, presented in terms of learning theory and ideas of "historical causation," most archaeologists, who clearly recognized that they were studying "material culture," adopted the view that culture must be described in terms of continuities. It is no accident that the development of observational "tools" by archaeologists, and the growth of archaeological systematics in general, was guided by the above ideas. New World systematics was generated by archaeologists using units (types) which were considered equivalent to the "culture traits" of their ethnographic colleagues. Summing up what was most certainly a view held by a majority of his colleagues, Krieger (1944:272) states that: "The purpose of a type in archaeology must be to provide an organizational tool which will enable the investigator to group specimens into bodies which have demonstrable historical meaning in terms of behavior patterns." He then operationalizes a means of achieving these "bodies": after describing two steps in the sorting of material using judgments of similarity based on morphological criteria, he then discusses the next, crucial step (1944: 280-81):
The third step is a process of recombining the groups obtained in the second step, through the study of their comparative distributions. .... Only in this way can it be determined that certain characters are variations of single underlying plans, while others which do not fall together consistently are not variations but culturally distinct ideas. Those details which do consistently combine through site after site, in the same temporal horizon and in the same culture complex, may thus be safely regrouped into tentative types. These differ from all other so-called types in that the cohesiveness of their elements has been proved through the use of archaeological data rather than simply supposed through a variety of assumptions.

For New World analysts, a "culture trait" was something that had "cohesion" among its particular properties (attributes). This cohesion was demonstrable only if the pattern held across a number of spatially distinct cases (sites). In this sense, the criterion of cohesion was used to define a culture trait qualitatively, which could only be demonstrated by a pattern of continuity or repetitive association of properties across a number of cases. Culture itself was seen to represent a "cohesion" of demonstrated culture traits, considered to exist at a level of organization transcending



the level represented by the social, ethnic, racial, or linguistic "identity" of the participants.
Cultural "Cohesion" in Association: An Old WorldParadigm

As far as we can determine, the modem concept of culture commonly used by many Europeans was popularized by V.G. Childe. For example, he (1929:vi) noted that:
We find certain types of remains-pots, implements, ornaments, burial sites, house formsconstantly recurring together. Such a complex of regularly associated traits we shall term a 'cultural group' or just a 'culture'. We assume that such a complex is the material expression of what would today be called a 'people'.

Childe's idea of culture appears to have been adopted from the Germanic literature, in particular from the works of Kossinna, who used it to express strong racist sentiments (see Trigger 1980). According to Kossinna, differential cultural achievements should be understood in terms of the degree that societies are kept racially "pure." Childe rejected the linkage of social success (judged in terms of cultural "achievements") with racial purity. He did not, however, reject the linkage between society and culture. For Childe, cultures were the material expressions of particular "peoples." Childe's view, as well as that of many others of the time, represents a poorly analyzed blend of holistic ideas then current in European circles.3 The idea that a "society" is the basic unit of "cultural variability" is perhaps best illustrated by one of the most influential writers who espoused a holistic viewpoint (Durkheim 1938 [1895] :119-20):
If we represent historic evolution as impelled by a sort of vital urge which pushes men forward, since a propelling tendency can have but one goal, there can be only one point of reference with relation to which the usefulness or harmfulness of social phenomena is calculated. Consequently, there can, and does, exist only one type of social organization that fits humanity perfectly; and the different historical societies are only approximations of this single model.

He goes on to say that this view is unacceptable for a number of reasons. He then proceeds to develop his argument (1938 [1895] :120-21):
If . . . the fitness or unfitness of institutions can only be established in connection with a given milieu, since these milieus are diverse, there is a diversity of points of reference and hence types which, while being qualitatively distinct from one another, are all equally grounded in the nature of social milieus . . . the constitution of the social milieu results from the mode of composition of the social aggregates . . . the considerations just stated lead us back to the idea that the causes of social phenomena are internal to society.

Durkheim's approach to the understanding of "milieus" was based on his view that such social "essences" are formed by coercive forces operating within societies. He states (1938 [1895] :103-4; emphasis added) that:
Society is not a mere sum of individuals. Rather, the system formed by their association represents a specific reality which has its own characteristics. Of course, nothing collective can be produced if individual consciousnesses are not assumed; but this necessary condition is by itself insufficient. These consciousnesses must be combined in a certain way; social life results from this combination and is, consequently, explained by it. Individual minds, forming groups by mingling and fusing, give birth to a being, psychological if you will, but constituting a psychic individuality of a new sort. It is, then, in the nature of this collective individuality, not in that of the associated units, that we must seek the immediate and determining causes of the facts appearing therein.

Such views provide archaeologists with a particularly defined reality to monitor along with their classifications. The seat of both causes and perpetuation of cultural



distinctiveness is the internal, "collective" characteristic of each society. It is this inner "milieu" which serves to differentiate and perpetuate societies. In short, any demonstrable cohesion among parts must derive from the operation of internal social factors-the collective. In many places in the Old World, and particularly in France, this view was linked with ideas expressed frequently by the German word Volk and the French esprit. Both have the suggestion of vitalism, where there was something driving the "esprit de corps." One's public spirit, or devotion to one's society, was seen as driven by an inner vitalism, somehow "natural to man." When this vitalism breaks down, "civilization" begins to flounder. In such a view, "cultures" were seen as differentiated packages, isomorphic with ethnically or nationally differentiated peoples. Blendings and mixings represented the breakdowns of one's very "spirit" and hence a kind of degeneracy similar to that which racists considered to result from "race mixing." As Durkheim (1938 [1895] :124) states, "The principle we have just expounded would . . . create a sociology which sees in the spirit of discipline the essential condition of all common life." This emphasis on spirit and the maintenance of distinctiveness through "discipline" is consistent with the frequently expressed view that some measure of a people's worth could be seen in the degree to which external factors could not intrude or impinge upon the cultural expressions of their distinctiveness. Such a point is emphasized by Sonneville-Bordes (1975). Under this view of culture, continuity should be demonstrable among the materials left at different archaeological sites by representatives of the same "people." In a similar manner we should expect conservative patterns of formal change, and we should not expect blended or mixed "traditions," since each people manifests its essential characteristics, its "spirit," in its products. This view is well stated by Bordes (1968:144): "Man is more ready to exchange his genes than his customs, as the whole history of Europe demonstrates." In sum, culture is expressed in terms of formal distinctiveness of artifacts and cohesion, seen in the repetition of a distinctive formal pattern at different sites. When this "ethnic" view of culture was popularized in the United States it was characterized as follows (Rouse 1965:6):
All components that have yielded similar assemblages are grouped together. Each group is defined by listing its distinctive traits and is given the name of a typical site .... The name applies not only to the groups of components but also to the traits which characterize it and to the people who lived in the components. The traits constitute a complex which is indicative of the people. Whenever one discovers a new site one can identify the people who lived there simply by determining which complex it contains.

The ethnic view of culture was operationalized by the archaeologist Francois Bordes. His methods of classification consist of a type list, or a set of categories, generated essentially as a "paradigmatic classification" (see Dunnell 1971). For example, he classified Paleolithic tools as a set of combinations and permutations of forms of working edge and the placement of such forms relative to the axis of percussion used in detaching the flake on which the tool was produced. The basic unit of observation is the assemblage, defined in terms of the principle of association; that is, all those tools found together within a recognizable unit of deposition within a site. The units of observation can then be described by tabulating the items in the assemblage relative to the type list. This quantitative pattern was commonly presented in the form of a cumulative graph. Thus, a culture was represented as a



unit of "cohesion" by the repetitive pattern of similar relative frequencies occurring among assemblages from different places. Cohesion was measured by formal similarity, described in quantative terms.
Mixed Paradigms

As one might imagine, there has been some mixing and blending of the Old and New World points of view. There appear to have been two types of mixing or blended views and intellectually blended views. blending-operationally blended views. "La methode Bordes" was developed in its pure Operationally form to treat lithic assemblages from very early time ranges. In general, lithic industries are all that the very early sites yield, except for occasional animal bones. Analysts are fairly comfortable adding, subtracting, and calculating percentages among an array of things scored according to Bordes's type list. However, all know we should not add apples and goats. As long as we have only lithics, the definition of an assemblage in quantitative terms is acceptable. On the other hand, when in later time periods we recover worked bones, art work, ceramics, ground stone, burials in substantial numbers, etc., the definition of an "assemblage" in quantitative terms appears to violate our sensibilities for dimensional mixing. How can we interpret the statement that an assemblage includes 13 percent laterally retouched scrapers, 14 percent extended burials, and 9 percent interior red-slipped pottery sherds? For the more "domains" of things recovered, the more we develop separate, self-contained classificatory schemes to deal with each independently; we then usually define "cultures" in terms of the particular mix of "types" generated independently in each of our separate classificatory schemes. The approach thus begins to appear like the tactics of New World, or Kriegerian, methodology, discussed above. In short, we may begin with an Old World paradigm but be forced to use a New World methodology because a simple quantitative summarization cannot treat all the things found in association within a single paradigmatic classification. Such a development seems to be the type of "mixed" approach which many Old World archaeologists employ when dealing with materials more complicated than the simple lithic industries of the early time ranges. As Childe (1929: 9-10) points out: Societies are represented,not by their members' skeletons, but by . . . pots and houseplans, personal ornaments,and burial sites, the materialsthey fetched from afar.... Such divide and classify into types, and when the same types are repeatedly remainsarchaeologists found together at different sites within a limited region they are groupedtogether to represent what we term cultures . . . types are repeatedly found togetherjust because the traditions they embody are approvedand transmittedby a society of persons. ... In this sense archaeologists''cultures'do really stand for societies. It should be clear that Childe's statement is consistent with Kriegerian method, but what a cohesion of types is said to represent is very different from what a typical New World archaeologist, familiar with the extensive distribution studies of culture traits, would conclude. Such studies fail to show any "cellular" distribution of culture traits corresponding to the social boundaries between separate societies (see Childe 1940; for more recent confirmatory studies of this problem, see Klimek 1935; Milke 1949; Clarke 1968; Hodder 1977). All these studies confirm that while some traits may tend to be distributed in terms of social units, configurations of traits representing demonstrable "cohesions" tend to exhibit more regionally extensive distributions, confirming Wissler's and Kroeber's earlier findings.



In this case of operationally blended views, we see researchers starting from a paradigm which assumes the perspective of an internal participant (who sees the distinctiveness of "peoples" arising from the "essential" distinctiveness of their social identities). The researchers are forced by the logic of treating different things not easily included in a single quantitative frame of reference to use methods developed from an almost diametrically opposed set of paradigmatic expectations as to what the world of culture is all about. We can expect that when these conditions hold, the cultures developed by such workers for time periods yielding increasingly diverse archaeological remains will begin to take on the character of "New World" cultures, in direct proportion to the numbers of different data sets recognized by the analysts. Intellectually blended views. Unlike the situation above, where incompatibility derives from the limited relevance of "la methode Bordes" in treating complex archaeological remains, intellectually blended views derive from recombinations of elements in the reasoning used by archaeologists. It is not uncommon to hear archaeologists from some area of North America talking about archaeological materials, described by largely Kriegerian methods, in terms of ethnic or social dynamics. We can only assume that these archaeologists are ignorant of the many empirical studies which repeatedly illustrate the point that there is no equivalence between culture, conceived in terms of cohesions among traits, and specific ethnically or politically defined units. Perhaps the ease with which the "ethnic identity" view of culture is adopted by many archaeologists simply reflects the fact that most archaeologists are products of complex systems. Few have had much direct experience with small-scale systems, and as a growing number of scholars' knowledge of general anthropology becomes smaller, they probably do not know that among small-scale societies, at least, culture as an expression of "one's identity" is a viewpoint which is very hard to defend.

The New World and Old World views of the world are paradigms. They summarize expectations as to what "culture" is like. Comparison of these two paradigms should illustrate just how insightful philosophers have been when they argue that our world view, or paradigm, conditions our observation and description of experience. But a paradigm also directly conditions the classificatory procedures which archaeologists have designed to measure culture. The first, or New World, viewpoint is rooted in empirical generalizations regarding the nature of culture which early ethnographers generated from their comparative study of culture traits (largely material objects) across the named social groups of the American Indian. The second, or Old World, viewpoint is rooted in a less systematically studied, but just as empirically based understanding of European history. As we have seen, the perspective of the New World paradigm is one of outside observers looking at variability across socially organized groups of people. In contrast, the Old World paradigm takes the viewpoint of inside observers looking at themselves, relative to the social world of their experiences. Advocates of this Old World paradigm compare other societies from this egocentric point of view.4



These two paradigms are conscious attempts to describe the world of cultural phenomena accurately. Yet they are generalized from very different data bases and described from different observer perspectives; one from relatively small-scale,lowenergy societies; the other from complex, power-based societies. It is not surprising, then, that the "reality" each view projects is different. Given that persons "seeing" the world through each of these paradigmatic "eyes" have developed different conventions for converting observations made on the archaeological record into descriptive statements about past cultures, and that past cultures have been treated like ethnographically known cultures, it is not surprising that classificatory techniques and methods have been designed to yield cultural information in terms of what the archaeologists thought culture was like. It also should not be surprising that the picture of the past generated by "Krieger's methods" is very different from the view of the past generated by "Bordes's methods." The Kriegerian,or New World, past is a picture of continuity within regions and through limited time spans, a picture of geographical continuities in culture but with temporal punctuations, or lacks of continuity, punctuating regional sequences. It should be kept in mind that "types" are primarily recognized in terms of the principle of continuity as viewed across spatially distinct samples. Since the number of dated samples is almost always far fewer than undated ones, continuity is demonstrable primarilyin a spatial mode. Thus, it is the temporal sequencing which is free to vary somewhat independently of the defining contexts. Approaching the past with the eyes of the New Worldview, we inevitably see the cultural past as a series of growths, followed by declines or collapses. It should be realized there are only two types of change which could possibly have been seen when "cohesion as measured by continuity" is the criterion for defining a culture: (1) growth where new culture traits are being added to the cohesive unit, and (2) disintegration where the cohesion breaks down. Any organizational change which reorganizes cultural phenomena will give the appearance of disintegration, since cohesion of disparate culture traits is the criterion for recognition of cultures themselves (cf. Erasmus 1968). It should further be remembered that a cohesion is an association of culture traits, and thus a qualitative phenomenon. Since the culture traits themselves are each qualitatively defined in terms of the criterion of continuity-that is, the same properties tend to "cohere" in items recovered from many different places-it is not surprising that New World cultures tend to exhibit geographicalcontinuities. In marked contrast is the view of the past generated through the use of "la methode Bordes." Here we see very different cultures living side by side in the same regions, characterized by a lack of geographical continuity sometimes described as "parallel phyla." We see a past where tenaciously unchanging cultures replace one another in confusing historical patterns within a similar region, and a lack of temporal continuity describedas "alternatingindustries" is sometimes claimed. Although this is sometimes a point of controversy, we see a past in which cultures change less, mix less, and are modified gradually through time, with few cases of collapse or decline. The picture one obtains is of replacement, not decline; gradual transitions, not punctuated change. Under the Old World view one expects cultures to exhibit a branching, diversifying pattern, very similar to that of biological evolution.



Table 1 provides a summary in outline form of the points of contrast between "Kriegerian," or "New World," and "la methode Bordes," or "Old World," approaches to classification. It should be apparent that the criterion of similarity has permitted archaeologists using "la methode Bordes" to judge which materials from different places represent a single culture. On the other hand, it has been recognized that "peoples" used different things, i.e., different artifact types. The criterion of association has permitted archaeologists to judge which different things went together within a given "culture." Different things found together (criterion of association) in an archaeological "level" would show what different things a "people" had. Similar assemblages found in different places (criterion of similarity) would show archaeologists where different "peoples" had been. It should be recognized that in the Old World view these conventions for interpretation do not admit the possibility that aspects of a single cultural system could appear as different assemblages at different places. This possibility would, by convention, be designated as an indication of cultural differences per se, used for the definition of different cultures borne by different peoples. In the words of Sonneville-Bordes (1975:3), "les types et leurs proportions sont stables et constants a l'interieur d'une meme culture pour une periode donnee dans une region donn6e, du moins dans certaines limites." If "la methode Bordes" is followed rigorously, it absolutely prevents us from ever seeing any organizational facts about past systems beyond those which may be manifest within a single occupation or a single level at a site. All units of synthesis beyond the assemblage will be internally homogeneous by convention of interpretation. We could thus never gain an appreciation for the organization of internally differentiated components of a system which might be manifest at different places. Turning to the "Krieger method," we face a slightly different problem: the characteristics of sites as such are not studied. In this approach the basic unit of observation is the artifact, in a framework of attributes. Types may be recognizable in many different data classes. Every class of items does not yield types, for some may be judged so generalized in their distributions as to be "nondiagnostic," and as such are most often ignored. Items of this kind traditionally would include most lithic material which is not bifacially worked, many kinds of ceramic utility wares, and classes of tools such as hammer stones, choppers, etc. Another characteristic of cultures defined in terms of "cohesions as measured by continuity" is that features such as pits, house forms, and hearths are frequently not considered to be basic cultural diagnostics because, from a pragmatic perspective, it is recognized that these features are not regularly preserved at most sites, or in some cases, are too expensive to recover. In other words, traits which are frequent, not too generalized, and easily recovered from different places are given priority as the defining characteristics of cultures. The only time that "places" are studied is when it is judged that some extraordinary conditions of preservation are present. Then the aim of archaeology is shifted from studying "culture history" to "reconstructing lifeways," and more attention may be given to the excavation of a site as a location that was used and lived in by past peoples. In general, the alternative aim of reconstructing the past is considered to be possible only under conditions of extraordinary preservation, which frees archaeological interpretation from restrictions thought to be imposed

PARADIGMS, SYSTEMATICS, AND ARCHAEOLOGY TABLE 1 Old World and New World Paradigms Operations A. Framework for Observation B. Basic Unit of Observation 1. Criterion for recognition 2. Observational Framework "La Methode Bordes" Type List


"The Krieger Method" Selected Attributes Artifact "Type"


Principle of Association Recognizable Depositional Strata Quantitative Paradigmatic Arrays Cumulative Graphs "A Culture" Principle of Similarity Assemblages from Different Sites

Principle of Continuity Examples from Multiple Locations in a Region Grouping of "types"

C. Method of Description

1. Method of Presentation D. Unit of Synthesis 1. Criterion for Recognition 2. Observational Framework

Trait Lists

"A Culture" Principle of Association Patterned Repetition of Types at Different Sites (Matrix comparisons) Qualitatively defined different things regularly associated at different places (Continuity)

(Case comparisons) E. "Cohesion" Measured by Similar quantitative patterns seen among similar things


by the "limitations" of the archaeological record (see Binford 1981b). Thus, one only investigates "places" intensively if they are judged to be little "Pompeiis" which might offer extraordinary "glimpses" of particular past events or conditions. When doing culture-historical research, one normally needs only to recover a sufficient sample of artifacts to permit a "cultural" assessment of the remains. This means that no real understanding of internal differentiations or organizational variability among components of a single system will be revealed by carrying out normal, traditional archaeological work. In sum: (1) The properties unique to sites are generally ignored or, if described, are not discussed in terms of developing arguments about "culture." This is perhaps



most clearly illustrated by citing "features"-hearths, pits, and other structured of things in sites. (2) Classes of things which are common to many arrangements sites over wide areas are often ignored. (3) Frequency variations among classes of things not considered "diagnostic" are frequently ignored. Even more telling is the absence of anything more than impressionistic treatment of frequency variations among different data sets. For example, relationships between bone frequencies and artifact-class frequencies, or feature frequencies and ceramic frequencies, are rarely discussed in describing sites and are almost never discussed when "cultures" and their definition are the subject of discussion. The implications are clear: the organizational properties of cultural systems as manifest in the differential use of places is logically excluded in "la methode Bordes" and is ignored (in favor of measures of cohesion and overriding similarities which tend to exhibit temporal or spatial continuities) in the "Krieger method." Only in rare cases where the archaeologist judges a site to be extraordinarily preserved does the perspective shift toward describing the internal relationships among data sets within a site, and even then the purpose has been to reconstruct small segments of the past, not to seek an understanding of the past in general.

When new archaeologists, and most particularly the senior author, began arguing for a change in the way archaeologists analyze the archaeological record, they did not argue for a particular theory, or propose a new theory as to how the world worked. Instead, they argued for a change in paradigm. They viewed the need for change as a shift in perspective, and further recognized that it was unlikely that archaeologists would invent on the spot any one "new perspective" which would be the most useful for all archaeological research. The discipline needed to try a variety of new perspectives which would permit it to explore the information potential of the archaeological record. It is no accident that New Perspectives in Archaeology (Binford and Binford 1968) did not call for new theories in particular, nor did it attempt to develop a monolithic approach. If one examines the list of contributors and the directions which their research took after 1968, it would be very difficult to find a single unifying argument or position other than a general dissatisfaction with the conventions of traditional archaeology. Under the more traditional approaches, it had been argued that the archaeological record limits the kinds of information which the archaeologist might refer to characteristics of past cultures. The new archaeologists argued that the discipline had not even begun to explore the archaeological record nor assess its potential for yielding information about the past, since all traditional methods for making inferences had been derived from limited paradigmatic expectations regarding culture. In the mid to late 1960s, some new archaeologists began to discuss the problem of "verification." It was recognized that the "methods," or interpretation, used by traditional archaeologists were simply conventions, not subject to evaluation by reference to the so-called empirical materials with which they worked. Most archaeologists' understanding was that a scientist "took his or her ideas to experience" for evaluation. In other words, science represented a philosophy which



sought the growth of knowledge through subjecting ideas ("knowledge") to trial by experience! It was clear to many new archaeologists that under the procedures of traditional archaeology, new experiences never affected archaeologists' alleged knowledge. The latter servedto accommodate all new experiences, and the particular tactics of accommodation became the so-called reconstructed history. The discipline was that of "discovering" (Binford 1982). The problem in the above analysis is that it was assumed that experience could be conceptualized independently of the ideas being evaluated by appeal to it. However, in our opinion, no objectivity had been achieved in the practice of traditional archaeology. Thus, the challenge today is how to achieve some independence for the experiences to which archaeologists appeal. Most archaeological reasoning has been a classic example of inductive argument from archaeological observations; no wonder the past never argued back! Archaeological interpretations have been inductively argued, and hence experience (the archaeological record) is simply the vehicle for inference. These inferences are logically tautologies in relation to the ideas which have guided the meanings given to the archaeologicalrecord. Initially, new archaeologists argued that the solution to this problem was to adopt another form of reasoning-deductive argument-where the premises were stated, consequences deduced, and these deductively reasoned expectations taken to . .. what? The past, or the archaeological record? Clearly, archaeologists in the late 1960s and early 1970s who argued for the potential of deductive procedures had not fully thought through the problem of the dependent status of their ideas regardingthe past. Archaeological knowledge of the past is totally dependent upon the meanings which archaeologists give to observations on the archaeologicalrecord. Thus archaeologically justified views of the past are dependent upon paradigmatic views regardingthe significance of archaeological observations. It is this basic point which we have tried to illustrate here. The challenge to archaeologists is the realization that the archaeological record cannot be used to test propositions about the meaning of archaeological observations in any direct sense. Such a realization inescapably leads to the conclusion that testing and verification of received ideas is really only possible at two basic junctures: (1) in an actualistic context, where archaeologists can evaluate propositions regarding the meaning to be attached to archaeological observations, i.e., middle-rangeresearch (see Binford 1981a); and (2) in the context of evaluatinggeneral theories regarding the "causes" of history. The latter of course assumes the existence of a body of unambiguous, independently warranted meanings, which can be attached to archaeological observations for evaluating the accuracy of proposed causal interactions operative in the past. In short, the key to either knowing the past accurately or evaluating theories about past processes is recognizing that both are dependent upon researchin the dynamic mode (actualistic or historical studies which allow archaeologists to assess the necessity of alleged cause-and-effect relationships between static and dynamic states of matter). In other words, middle-range studies make it feasible for archaeologists to attempt to "know" the past. What guides such studies? The answer is archaeologists' paradigmatic understanding of the archaeological record. This conclusion implies



something quite important: namely, that archaeologists must develop ways of increasing the accuracy and utility of their paradigm. Search the literature of science or the philosophy of science on this issue and one finds little aid or comfort. In the very early days of scientific discussion, the strict empiricists addressed the issue of methods for discovery, but the recent literature has tended to relegate this issue to an imponderable comer of "psychological causation" and restrict itself to considerations of evaluating received ideas (ideas already discovered or invented). These approaches are obviously of little aid to archaeologists today, whose task is the production of a useful paradigm, not the testing of theories produced in the context of the extant paradigm. Unlike skeptics such as Kuhn, we are convinced that we can learn to encourage productive paradigm change through rational means. We are also convinced that we can learn to evaluate competing paradigms objectively in spite of the claims for extreme intellectual relativism and noncomparability of theories and arguments generated in the context of different paradigms (see Binford 1982). For example, we can look back to the classic empiricist arguments of Francis Bacon for a guide to paradigm evaluation which is of continuing value to scholars today. Bacon's very arguments appear to be paradigmatic in character and not concerned with theories per se. He states (1947 [1620] :154;emphasis added) that:
I am of opinion that if men had ready at hand a just history of nature and experience, and labored diligently thereon, and if they could bind themselves to two rules, the first to lay aside received opinions and notions, and the second, to refrain the mind for a time from the highest generalizations ... they would be able by the native and genuine force of the mind, without any other art, to fall into my form of interpretation. For interpretation is the true and natural work of the mind.

If archaeologists can gain a healthy skepticism regarding received conceptualizations of nature and seek to place themselves in positions relative to nature and experience where the adequacy and/or ambiguity of the received concepts may be evaluated, then they can hope to gain some objectivity relative to the utility of their concepts. Paradigm change is brought about and implemented, we believe, by seeking out new perspectives. The shift from a static to a dynamic perspective offers one example where the utility of concepts and the conventions of an observational language may be evaluated. As we have argued, the "observer perspective" is an important conditioner of the world to be seen. We have illustrated how in the Old World view the observer perspective is that of an internal participant looking from an egocentric position within the system. The New World view is that of an observer high above the cultural geography of a region, looking down at variability across previously identified ethnic units. The internal participant versus the aerial observer perspectives condition very different "realities." Are either of these observer perspectives really appropriate to the observational framework within which archaeologists commonly work? Let us briefly examine this question. In a very real sense, the spatial frames within which we most commonly work are the "site" and the "region." The site provides us with an observational window to the past which may be likened to the perspective of an immovable observer seated at the bottom of a well, looking up. All the observer can "see" from such a perspective is the "fallout" from some part of an organized system which happened to pass over that one stationary well. We would rarely if ever expect a



whole culture to pass over or be compressed so as to be seen within the confines of our tiny window. This means that what we see is always some "part" of a larger "whole." Given that the whole is an internally differentiated system, the parts seen from this perspective may be quite different in terms of contact, organization, and "role" played in the organized whole-the overall system. The challenge to archaeological methods is how to integrate reliably different assemblages, organizational forms (e.g., site structure), or parts into an accurate picture of the organized whole which existed in the past. It is very clear that the integrating criteria used under older perspectives-association and similarity-are not relevant and yield distortions. The criterion of continuity remains however as a possibility for integrating dissimilar assemblage units when studying noncomplex groups. Linked with the criterion of association at a much larger scale-the region-it at least appears feasible to begin the tentative description of large-scale, organizationally differentiated systems within which mobile hunter-gathererscarried out their lives. Almost certainly such an approach would be only an interim strategy, for once archaeologists learn how to look at systems from the realistic perspective of observer in a well, they will see many new things which can aid in the organizationaldiagnosis of past systems. The recognition of the most fruitful perspective to assume when conducting research is part of paradigm growth. For instance, if archaeologistsplace themselves in a productive research situation where both static and dynamic aspects of a system may be observed (an ethnoarchaeological project, for example) and assume observer perspectives which areunrealisticrelative to the archaeologicalrecord (as for instance those of internal observer or ethnographer), they will always come away having seen the archaeologicalrecord as limited and impoverished (see, for example, Gould 1980: 27-28). Rather, we must learn to see the dynamics from a perspective appropriate to the archaeological record. Such a viewpoint should be (1) nonparticipating, (2) outside, and (3) partitive. No amount of ethnographic observations will help us understand a system when viewed from the perspective of statics. Static remains are not the watered-down, impoverished "residues" of ethnographers' experiences. They are an existential domain which must be understood in terms of their own properties. Attempts to translate archaeological statics into a reconstruction of interpersonal interaction or forms of mental "deep structure" is akin to translating facts of cell biology into scenarios of predator-prey interactions. We need a science of the archaeological record. To achieve this goal, archaeologists need to continue to experiment with methods for both the production and refinement of a new paradigm appropriate to our science. If we have successes along these lines, then archaeology will begin to achieve the status of "archaeology as anthropology." Under the previous paradigms, archaeologists used culture to explain the archaeological record. We need to be able to reverse the situation and use the archaeological record to help further the anthropological goal of explaining cultural differences and similarities.
NOTES 1. We wish to thank the students of our Anthropology 507 (Fall 1981) seminar at the University of New Mexico for their intellectual stimulation; also Paula L.W. Sabloff and Harry Basehart for clarifying our ideas. 2. We are not arguing that Kuhn contends


JOURNAL OF ANTHROPOLOGICAL RESEARCH cal influences among scholars. That is to say, we are not arguing, for example, that either Childe or Bordes were directly influenced by Durkheim. 4. These paradigms should not be confused with "etic" and "emic" approaches to theory building, because either could be used in terms of both paradigms.

that the logic which individuals may have used in advocating a scientific revolution was irrational. Rather, we are saying that he appears to us to be arguing that their theories do not necessarily follow in a rational, continuous fashion from the previous theories of the earlier, "normal science" phase. 3. Our argument is based on our interpretation of the relationship of ideas-not on histori-

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