Missing boats - or lacking thoughts?
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Original versionBang-Andersen, S. (2013) Missing boats - or lacking thoughts?. Norwegian Archaeological Review, 46(1) pp.81-83 10.1080/00293652.2013.777099
At the Wenner-Gren Supper Conference held at Harvard University on 6 November 1953, the British archaeologist Christopher Hawkes described a four-step ‘ladder’ of inductive reasoning. The lowest and most easily accessible level is to infer from the archaeological phenomena the techniques producing them. The next and more laborious is to infer the subsistence-economics of the human groups concerned. To arrive at former social/political conditions is generally more difficult, and to infer religious/spiritual factors by archaeological methods alone is the hardest of all (Hawkes 1954). To me, this ladder still stands upright and deserves to be remembered even sixty years later. Since there are more alternatives than we realize in archaeology, we need to have imagination and an open mind when we examine evidence, if any, to avoid becoming stuck in orthodoxy. Accordingly, Håkon Glørstad in his article ‘Where are the missing boats?’ starts by investigating and partly deconstructing three established archaeological agreements in Norway, which are also relevant within most other parts of the world: • drawing inferences and arguing from negative evidence • actualism: that the present situation is a key to the past • use of the past to understand later historical processes.
This is an electronic version of an article published in the Norwegian Archaeological Review. © 2013 Taylor & Francis; Norwegian Archaeological Review is available online at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00293652.2013.777099.