chapter  1
ByEberhard W. Sauer
Pages 14

Are the archaeology and history of the ancient world two disciplines that can be studied genuinely in isolation from each other – one based on the investigation of material culture, the other on texts? If so, do all data, questions and phenomena neatly fall into the competence of one or the other? If not, where precisely do we draw the line? Or, if there is no sharp division, how far may either group incorporate the other’s data or results (and the grey zone in between) while still maintaining a clear, separate identity? Are archaeology and history of equal status or is one a source-studying discipline that provides data for wider synthesis by the other – and, in the latter case, how can this attribution of roles be justified logically? What are the differences in the quality of the data they provide in terms of geographical and thematic coverage, accessibility, veracity or distortion, and to what extent can they therefore be understood in isolation from each other? Is the separation of the two an ideal to be sought and to be defended – and, if so, why? Or is it based on mere pragmatism? In the latter case, is this separation necessary to achieve a perfect methodology or merely an excuse for laziness allowing the scholar to avoid studying a substantial proportion of the relevant evidence? If, however, it is indeed considered necessary to divide the study of the human past into separate disciplines because of the sheer quantity of information, should method be our first criterion for defining those disciplines? Are not other ordering principles (such as geography, chronology and subject matter, or a combination of these) just as valid? Is there one right and one wrong way at all or would it be more fruitful to employ a multiplicity of approaches rather than, mainly, the traditional ones?