Critique of Archaeological Reason
5. Excerpts and summaries

Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati

Giorgio Buccellati - February 2014

Excerpts from 1977 "Quantitative Analysis"

Distributional analysis: the conceptual basis

p. 42 binary system       The binary logic which underlies an encoding of this type is especially likely to result in a system whose components parts are truly mutually exclusive and hence truly comprehensive.
open vs. closed systems       The alternative (and traditional) mode is to compile a conglomerate of observations, which are purely cumulative, one with respect to the other, and form an open system. Instead, with an attribute system based on binary logic we obtain an integrated structure, whose component parts are logically interrelated and form a closed system.
-etic vs. -emic       In this sense we may say that the current anthropological terminology which distinguishes between -etic and -emic levels of analysis may be understood as referring respectively to a cumulative and open system ("-etic") or to a structural and closed system ("-emic").
structural system       The attribute analysis which I am describing here is precisely a contribution toward the development of such a structural system for a comprehensive analytical reading of the seals, on which alone a quantitative analysis of automatic attribute identification may become possible...
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Distributional analysis: justification of the nodes given in the tree on Figure A

p. 45 the corpus       ... a project was started two years ago to analyze Mesopotamian seals from a stylistic and iconographic point of view. The project was initiated with the study of Old Babylonian seals...
highest node       The first major distinction is between levels of analysis, depending on whether the mode is internal to a stylistic and iconographic system, or external to it.
next nodes       In turn, external criteria are either context-bound, i. e. relative to a set of specific reference points of time, place, availability, etc. in the past or the present, or context-free, i. e. determined with reference to absolute scales of measurement (size, physical composition, etc.) or to qualifiable scales of workmanship (mode of attachment, technique of carving, etc.).
subsequent nodes ...
p. 46 digital development       At this point, the encoding is in the process of being formalized for the sake of computer analysis. The empirical work conducted on the seals studied so far, coupled with a concern for the universal nature of the logical system of categorization, will result, it is hoped, in a taxonomic code that is both flexible and structurally comprehensive. The conceptual analysis has been already performed in detail on the corpus defined above. the next step is to translate the data into machine readable form...
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