Is Archeology a Science?


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I have two objections to archeology's claim to be a science.First, it bases its inferences on data samples which would be considered utterly inadequate to prove the same sorts of assertions in history or in a court of law. A few Egyptian coins of the 2nd century B.C. are found in Massalia, and suddenly archeologists conclude that there must have been significant trade going on between Massalia and Egypt, when in fact the find may have been just a chance event, with some Massalian in the 1st century A.D. having been a collector of old Egyptian coins.Second, its inferences operate on the assumption that peoples in the distant past thought just like us, which we well know is not the case. Often the evidence of beliefs and atittudes even just a few centuries ago is shockingly irrational, illogical, and mysterious in terms of the human motivations which drive our behavior today, and yet when archeologists look at the material evidence of the past, they draw implications from it about how people in the past lived on the basis of the illicit assumption that those people oriented towards their material surroundings exactly as we would.When Egyptologists pompously announce that the tiny, painted, wooden figures in some pharoh's tomb were designed to accompany him to the afterlife so that they could serve him there, I always want to ask, "How do you know that they weren't intended as toys? How do you know that the whole ritual surrounded pharonic burials wasn't accompanied by raucus laughter and performed as a type of parody?
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