For periods where there are written sources such as Ancient Greece or medieval Europe, archaeologists have tended to use texts as the means to interpret and understand past belief systems. For cultures where there are no written sources, many archaeologists have held the view that uncovering the nature of past religious belief from material remains is beyond their ability. In the 1950s Hawkes argued that there was a hierarchy of inferences which archaeologists could make from their sources. Using material remains they could say a great deal about technology and economics, much less about society and very little about belief. How can you understand thoughts from bones, sherds and postholes? His

argument has become known as Hawkes’ ladder of inference (see Figure 8.1).