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Archaeology Useless?

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  Quote red clay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Archaeology Useless?
    Posted: 21-May-2012 at 08:50
 
Picked this up from an email this am.
 
 
 

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/science/2012/05/20/archaeology-useless-not-in-educated-society.html

Archaeology useless? Not in educated society

The Columbus Dispatch

Sunday May 20, 2012

The Daily Beast, the online home of Newsweek magazine, recently posted a list of “the 13 most useless” college majors. Archaeology was listed along with anthropology at No. 9. The compilers of the list used employment opportunities and earnings potential as their criteria for usefulness.
I take issue with the notion that archaeology is useless and find it sad that the important contributions archaeology can make are so undervalued by the contemporary marketplace.

In a timely paper, published online last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, archaeologists Michael Smith, Gary Feinman, Robert Drennan, Timothy Earle and Ian Morris make the case that archaeology is a vital social science that provides a uniquely valuable perspective on human history.

They write that archaeology provides the only window to the human past before the invention of writing. It also provides a more comprehensive view of the early historic era, since archaeology “can inform about all segments of society, including commoners, peasants, the underclass and slaves, groups often left out of early historical accounts.”

Most importantl, “Archaeological findings provide a long-term perspective on change, documenting the origins of agriculture, the Urban Revolution and other transformational social changes.”A rguably, without an understanding of how we got to where we are, we won't be able to find our way through the maze of problems that have accompanied these changes.

For example, a commitment to agriculture and living in cities has led to a deteriorating environment, declines in health and increased social inequality. These are among the factors often suggested to have been the causes of the collapse of civilizations.

Similar problems afflict our contemporary society. Does this mean that we are headed for an inevitable collapse?

The archaeologist Karl Butzer, writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this year, suggested that such alarmist comparisons too often are “poorly focused, simplistic and unhelpful.” But after reviewing five case studies of ancient societies that suffered a collapse, he has gleaned important lessons that might help us avoid the mistakes that led them to ruin.

He points out that modern nations have important advantages that make them less vulnerable to collapse than earlier civilizations. For example, we have access to better information, and we have“an increasingly educated and engaged citizenry.”

Nevertheless, the social and economic effects of global climate change, for example, pose a threat to even the most technologically advanced civilizations. Butzer argues that there is an urgent need for our political leaders to accept the overwhelming scientific evidence for climate change so that we can begin to develop effective ways of dealing with its consequences. Otherwise, we, too, will fall victim to the “poor leadership, administrative dysfunction and ideological ambivalence” that have been hallmarks of the collapse of civilizations throughout history.

Archaeology is far from useless. It certainly is not a career path for anyone who wants to get rich, but if our best and brightest are discouraged from studying the lessons of the past, then our civilization might end up as a cautionary tale for archaeologists of the future.

Bradley T. Lepper is curator of archaeology at the Ohio Historical Society.

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  Quote Centrix Vigilis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-May-2012 at 18:23
Primary source The Daily beast? Newsweek? What more then do I need to utterly disregard it.
It's such a ludicrous proposition that it's not worth commentary time.
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  Quote Nick1986 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-May-2012 at 19:31
If archaeology's such a useless subject we'd be almost ignorant of past civilisations like Egypt or Rome. There would be no great discoveries like King Tut's tomb, the Rosetta Stone, the Baghdad battery, or the Terracotta army
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  Quote Toltec Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-May-2012 at 10:10
Useless at what. Getting a you job, sure. But since when has a degree been about getting you a job?
 
Oh yes. the 1980's.
 
I blame Thatcher.
 
 
P.S.
I was almost happy to read the report saying archaeology is useless, finally an American who knows what archaeology is...  Every report I ever read in an American publication never says "archaeologists" have discovered, they always say "scientists". Then you get the archaeologist riposting to the article in "science" magazine describing archaeology as a"social science". Look I know there is practically zero archaeology in America but for christ sake can't someone learn archaeology is not science, not social science, it's a branch of anthropology.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Stupidity got us into this mess, why can't it get us out?

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  Quote Toltec Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-May-2012 at 10:19
Originally posted by Nick1986

If archaeology's such a useless subject we'd be almost ignorant of past 
 
Most people are.
 
The worst offenders at being ignorant of archaeology is historians, especially those who frequent history forums.
 
Most archaeologists I've spoken couldn't care less people know nothing about archaeology or that most people have an almost entirely wrong idea about prehistory (largely given to them by historians). They're happy to spread knowledge among themselves and keep it at that.
Stupidity got us into this mess, why can't it get us out?

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  Quote red clay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-May-2012 at 10:21
Anthropology is a Social Science.  As far as your characterization of Archaeology in the US, you really don't know squat. Tongue
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  Quote red clay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-May-2012 at 10:31
 
Toltec wrote-
        
Most archaeologists I've spoken couldn't care less people know nothing about archaeology or that most people have an almost entirely wrong idea about prehistory (largely given to them by historians). They're happy to spread knowledge among themselves and keep it at that.
 
 
On this we can agree.  For some warped reason they seem to think that by keeping their knowledge to themselves it somehow protects their status.   The danger there is basically what this thread is about.
 
 
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  Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-May-2012 at 12:22
Actually, I like archeology and it does open the door to some civilian careers. An intelligence analyst I worked with in Mexico had done the field work for his masters degree there. At that time the general histories treated the Maya as a lowland civilization that had never come in contact with the Mexica on the Altiplano plateus, something that a recent archeological discovery on a hilltop near Puebla had debunked. Likewise, the popular historic version of the Teotihuacan civilization held that they had not practiced human sacrifice, something he called into question by pointing out that its pyramids included blood runnels for draining the blood of sacrificial victims.

Korea likes to claim 5,000 years of history for itself, yet an archeological work by a Korean-American Ph.D. trims 3000 years off than, and notes that the pre-historic sites for manufacturing daggers proclaaimed as uniquely 'Korean' have been found all over North China.

So, it seems that archeologists can at least attempt to keep historians honest by providing some useful evidence raising doubts about long-accepted versions of history.

As for it being a branch of anthropology, I believe it is accepted as such. But given the AAA's activist political tint, and insistence on political correctness, over the past forty years, I can see why many archeologists might want to consider it separate.   
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  Quote Toltec Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-May-2012 at 12:55
Originally posted by lirelou


Korea likes to claim 5,000 years of history for itself, yet an archeological work by a Korean-American Ph.D. trims 3000 years off than, and notes that the pre-historic sites for manufacturing daggers proclaaimed as uniquely 'Korean' have been found all over North China.

So, it seems that archeologists can at least attempt to keep historians honest by providing some useful evidence raising doubts about long-accepted versions of history.
 
 
In some cases archaeology does engrandise a country, South America for example, proving a longer and more astonishing past than the nationalist historians dreamt of, so is happily welcomed. But in the cases of most countries it just proves the national myth complete nonsense so is kept at arms length from public knowledge.
 
 


Edited by Toltec - 22-May-2012 at 12:57
Stupidity got us into this mess, why can't it get us out?

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  Quote Nick1986 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-May-2012 at 19:12
Originally posted by Toltec

Originally posted by Nick1986

If archaeology's such a useless subject we'd be almost ignorant of past 
 
Most people are.
 
The worst offenders at being ignorant of archaeology is historians, especially those who frequent history forums.
 
Most archaeologists I've spoken couldn't care less people know nothing about archaeology or that most people have an almost entirely wrong idea about prehistory (largely given to them by historians). They're happy to spread knowledge among themselves and keep it at that.

Unfortunately, that's true. Mick Aston is one of the few exceptions
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  Quote Toltec Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-May-2012 at 05:06
Originally posted by red clay

Anthropology is a Social Science.  As far as your characterization of Archaeology in
the US, you really don't know squat. Tongue
 
I know enough that on your own forum, the Social Sciences forum is in the Intellectual discussion section and Archaeology is on the same forum as Anthropology in the Genral history section.
 
So will you be eating those words straight up or lightly sorteed in garlic and served with a hollandaise sauce?
 


Edited by Toltec - 23-May-2012 at 05:35
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  Quote red clay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-May-2012 at 08:18
I stand on what I said.  You still don't know squat about archaeology in the US.
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  Quote Toltec Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-May-2012 at 08:58
Me and 313,597,552 other people.
Stupidity got us into this mess, why can't it get us out?

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  Quote unclefred Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-May-2012 at 11:52
This is the golden time of Arch. in the americas. The bulk of the work is still waiting.
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  Quote Yugoslav Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-May-2012 at 13:58
Oh come on...every discipline is useful. 
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  Quote Toltec Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-May-2012 at 16:00
Originally posted by Yugoslav

Oh come on...every discipline is useful. 
 
Erm.... Sociology!
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  Quote Nick1986 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-May-2012 at 19:17
Originally posted by Toltec

Originally posted by Yugoslav

Oh come on...every discipline is useful. 
 
Erm.... Sociology!

And pointless subjects like "leisure and tourism." If someone wants to run a tourist attraction they could simply take a business management course, or work their way up from the bottom with on-the-job training
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  Quote Centrix Vigilis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-May-2012 at 22:33
Originally posted by Toltec

Useless at what. Getting a you job, sure. But since when has a degree been about getting you a job?
 
Oh yes. the 1980's.
 
I blame Thatcher.
 
 
P.S.
I was almost happy to read the report saying archaeology is useless, finally an American who knows what archaeology is...  Every report I ever read in an American publication never says "archaeologists" have discovered, they always say "scientists". Then you get the archaeologist riposting to the article in "science" magazine describing archaeology as a"social science". Look I know there is practically zero archaeology in America but for Christ sake can't someone learn archaeology is not science, not social science, it's a branch of anthropology.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Yep..true enough.  But I have known that for 40 years so give me something new and unlike the main here have the credentials to prove it.LOL 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Toltec wrote-Red responded.
''Most archaeologists I've spoken couldn't care less people know nothing about archaeology or that most people have an almost entirely wrong idea about prehistory (largely given to them by historians). They're happy to spread knowledge among themselves and keep it at that.''
''On this we can agree. For some warped reason they seem to think that by keeping their knowledge to themselves it somehow protects their status. The danger there is basically what this thread is about.''
 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
 
 
 
 
I just got done standing in a pen two foot deep in cow shit.... both are true...I have known this for 40 years...tell me something new.LOL I'm not in the pens because I love archaeology or history less or can make more or less money at either.....but because I choose it.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Toltec:
 
''In some cases archaeology does engrandise a country, South America for example, proving a longer and more astonishing past than the nationalist historians dreamt of, so is happily welcomed. But in the cases of most countries it just proves the national myth complete nonsense so is kept at arms length from public knowledge.''
 
 
 
 
Subjective and such an enormous generalization it almost isn't worth responding to......LOL  But I will. Tell me for example.. that the countless anthro's and archaeo's and socio's etc... who have illuminated  Northern Native American and Canadian sociological and cultural development.... have not helped and enriched those folks history thru their work and presentations and this has been rejected by the vast majority they  have studied. And as for the nationalization and use of it to promote the same.... which country on the planet has not done the same....iow. Known this for 40 years tell me something new.LOL
 
 
As to whether or not you and 300,000,000 plus people know nothing about the efforts and contributions of archaeo's and related disciplines in America or elsewhere.........walk that dog on another path........because in the end that remained a personal choice on their part. Not because an opportunity to learn wasn't offered in a free and democratic society... the motives and the agendas of all professional social scientists aside.... Because the 'hard science folks' even more so... do the same thing......so in conclusion...known that for 40 years...tell me something new.Sleepy
 
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Edited by Centrix Vigilis - 23-May-2012 at 22:36
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  Quote Yugoslav Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-May-2012 at 13:45
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  Quote red clay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-May-2012 at 16:06
Yugo, I do not think arch. is useless, I posted that mainly to see what others had to say.  I believe that is becoming too common an attitude in a substantial slice of the public.   It's something that should concern us all.  Funds for digs and the science required after have never been easy to come by, this kind of thinking won't make it any easier.
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