chapter  10
10 Pages

What Is Theoretical Archaeology?

Despite the differences in their historical backgrounds, Russian archaeology and Western archaeology still share a signi cant common factor: there remain large numbers of archaeologists who are indifferent to theoretical archaeology, if not downright hostile. In Russia, despite the fact that ‘Marxism demands theory and negates empiricism’ (Klejn pers. comm.), this antipathy can be traced back to the Soviet era. As an example, Klejn told me the story of how in the Soviet era one archaeologist presented him with a particularly unusual artefact and challenged him to use his ‘theory’ to say something about its use. Klejn confessed that he knew nothing about the artefact but that given time he hoped to learn more about it. Many years later, Klejn was able to revisit his inquisitor and tell her how he had nally worked out the artefact’s use. He admits that in this instance the role of theory was not obvious, but nonetheless it was still present.