chapter  7
Stories of the Past or Science of the Future? Archaeology and Computational Social Science
Pages 36

Since it emerged as a formal field of study from 18th-and 19th-century antiquarianism, archaeology has focused on the past, a fact explicitly recognized in the Greek neologism adopted for its name. From its inception, archaeology has had as its primary goal the systematic (and, to many, scientific) reconstruction of past societies; that is, the most common outcome of archaeological practice has long been the construction of narratives that recount in historylike fashion some aspect of past human lives and societies. Within the past half-century, this basic aim has been expanded to encompass explanations why people and societies in these archaeological reconstructions acted and changed in the way they did-although debate continues within archaeology as to the relative importance of reconstruction (or history) and explanation and about what constitutes adequate explanation (Barton and Clark, 1997; Dunnell, 1982; Hegmon, 2003; Killick, 2004; Pauketat and Alt, 2005; Wylie, 1992, 2000). With ongoing advances in methods for data collection and analysis, archaeologists endeavor to create and explain narratives of the past with increasing detail, accuracy, and insight. But regardless of the methods used or the relative emphasis on historical accounts or explanation, the reconstruction of the past still underlies all modern archaeology.