How do archaeologists make effective use of physical traces and material culture as repositories of evidence?

Material Evidence takes a resolutely case-based approach to this question, exploring instances of exemplary practice, key challenges, instructive failures, and innovative developments in the use of archaeological data as evidence. The goal is to bring to the surface the wisdom of practice, teasing out norms of archaeological reasoning from evidence.

Archaeologists make compelling use of an enormously diverse range of material evidence, from garbage dumps to monuments, from finely crafted artifacts rich with cultural significance to the detritus of everyday life and the inadvertent transformation of landscapes over the long term. Each contributor to Material Evidence identifies a particular type of evidence with which they grapple and considers, with reference to concrete examples, how archaeologists construct evidential claims, critically assess them, and bring them to bear on pivotal questions about the cultural past.

Historians, cultural anthropologists, philosophers, and science studies scholars are increasingly interested in working with material things as objects of inquiry and as evidence – and they acknowledge on all sides just how challenging this is. One of the central messages of the book is that close analysis of archaeological best practice can yield constructive guidelines for practice that have much to offer archaeologists and those in related fields.

chapter 1|20 pages

Material evidence: learning from archaeological practice

ByAlison Wylie, Robert Chapman

part |2 pages

PART I Fieldwork and recording conventions

part |2 pages

PART II Cross-field trade: archaeological applications of external expertise and technologies

part |2 pages

PART III Multiple working hypotheses, strategies of elimination, and triangulation

chapter 12|30 pages

Uncertain on principle: combining lines of archaeological evidence to create chronologies

ByAlex Bayliss, Alasdair Whittle

chapter 14|16 pages

Evidence, archaeology and law: an initial exploration

ByRoger M. Thomas

chapter 15|16 pages

Law and archaeology: Modified Wigmorean Analysis

ByTerence J. Anderson, William Twining

chapter 16|22 pages

Traditional knowledge, archaeological evidence, and other ways of knowing

ByGeorge Nicholas, Nola Markey

part |2 pages

PART IV Broader perspectives: material culture as object and evidence