Critique of Archaeological Reason
1. Introduction to the website

A companion to the printed volume

Giorgio Buccellati – May 2017

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The book and the website

There is a direct relationship between the book and the website. The book depends on the website for the documentation, and the website depends on the book for the full articulation of the argument.

Since the website will remain open, there will be an ongoing expansion of its material, while the book will remain as originally published. The inbalance between the two is particularly noticeable in this first version of the website, which, in spite of its considerable size, exhibits especially two substantive limits (besides minor formal inconsistencies).

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Limits of the website

I point out here some limits of the current version of the website. Besides some revisions in the format (particularly with regard to the arrangement of the notes), two substantive limits need to be mentioned.

One limit is that some of the entries are not fully developed and need to be fleshed out. In particular, several of the bibliographical entries do not have a summary, although they all contain a reference to a place in the website were they have been cited.

Another limit is that some important publications are missing because we are still working on internal cross-references, and several excerpts, critical reviews and themes have not been included because they represent only work in progress.

Future versions will progressively remedy these gaps.

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The Notes (in section 3) are linked to the bibliography, and, vice versa, each bibliographical item that is mentioned in the notes is linked to its appropriate target.

The notes are intended to serve as a documentary support for the printed volume, and they presuppose it. Thus, accessing the notes without the printed volume may not be sufficient to show what the import of the note is.

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Entries in the bibliography include for the most part a summary of the item in question (where this is missing, it will be provided in later versions of the website). The summary is intended to be descriptive, rather than critical, and is especially intended to bring out the relevance of the item for the overall argument of the Critique. Where a critical remark is given explicitly, it is marked off by square brackets.

The bibliography aims to review the literature that is most pertinent for the overall argument of the Critique, and as such it refers directly to the printed volume (the links to the pertinent notes and sections are found in the upper right of each entry). Some titles do not deal with the argument per se, but are deemed to be pertinent for reasons that are made clear in the summary.

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Expanded treatments

The website develops selected topics that in the printed book are not treated at length.

(1) Some topics are directly relevant to the main argument of the Critique. For example, the concept of trace analysis is central to the definition of archaeology and to the application of grammar, but cannot be developed in detail in the book: thus one will find an extended discussion of a prime model of this approach in a monograph devoted specifically to a major early work by Wynn.

Analogously, iconology provides important insights for a fuller understanding of the role of hermeneutics in archaeology, but cannot be adequately discussed in the book. Thus the work of Panofsky is treated at some length in the bibliography as well as in a longer review.

The social impact of archaeology is relevant to the question of continuity and the resilience of tradition. Thus an extensive treatment of an important work by Hodder and others within the section on excerpts and summaries presents in detail their particular point of view on this subject.

Even a topic as central to the main argument as that of broken traditions is susceptible of an expanded treatment in section devoted to themes, through which more specific aspects can be developed.

(2) Other topics treated in the website are parallel to the core argument, as in the case, for instance, of colonialism. Here, colonialism is seen to shed light on the notion of hermeneutics in that it takes, implicitly, a strong anti-hermeneutic stand: it is from this opposition that one can gain further insight into what proper hermeneutics really intends to do. Thus the theme is tangential to the central argument of the Critique, but sufficiently relevant in its import to be pertinent for our website.

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