Saturday, March 03, 2012

Archaeologists and their pretensions

The difficulty here is that the archaeological establishment, internationally as well as in Turkey, now bays at this sensible measure like wolves surrounding a beleaguered dog-sled trying to convey a bit of common sense, through the winter of discontent and ravenous ideological illogic, to some place where it can be heard and constructively acted upon.

The real solution to such difficulties is to cease extending automatic acceptance of and respect to archaeologists as scientists. Archaeologists are not, by any defensible definition of that term, scientists. They are instead purveyors of unproven and in too many cases, illogically formulated opinions.

According to a REAL scientist -- Dr. Ernest Rutherford (1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson), "That which is not measurable is not science. Physics is the only real science. That which is not physics is stamp collecting."

This dictum (though essential to understanding the issues) does go too far. It should properly be extended to ""That which is not measurable or rigorously provable according to the laws of mathematics logic and experimental verification is not science." That definition would extend Rutherford's rigor-based intellectual perspective beyond physics to include mathematics, and other disciplines in which mathematical and experimental proof is possible -- chemistry and materials science being important examples.

No reasonable construction as to what constitutes a science, however, can possibly be stretched so far as to include archaeology. As one who has personally contributed to the subdiscipline of optical physics, carefully observing the rigors of the scientific method and the laws of mathematics, as well as the necessity of experimental verification of hypotheses before one ventures to assert them, I view the intellectually loose, disorganized, illogical, ideologically driven approach of "mainstream" doctrinaire archaeologists toward what might charitably be described as their "discipline" as contemptible according to a Rutherfordian perspective. Whatever they do practice, it cannot be considered a science according to that perspective or any defensible extension thereof.

Archaeology is in reality a very imperfectly organized body of thought, a loose collection of the opinions of thinkers and investigators united to a very elastic degree by unverified and inherently unverifiable doctrines of experimental procedure and theory, which may best be viewed as possibly constituting a science in the making -- as astrology eventually gave rise to astronomy, and alchemy to chemistry. In this observer's opinion, archaeology still has a long way to go.

Absent the essential ingredient of rigorous proof, we find in utterances of archaeologists much nonsense among which is the unproven, unjustified concept that looting of archaeological sites is caused by collecting. No verifiable data supporting that assertion in a manner consistent with fact and logic has ever been published nor will it ever be published, since this dogma is factually and logically indefensible.

Looking at the many difficulties and actual injustices the anticollecting perspective of mainstream archaeology has caused to those who do not subscribe to their ideology, it is difficult to justify automatically extending the respect one instinctively accords to a scientist, to those who identify themselves as archaeologists. What basis is there within the accepted definition of a science for that? Should we not instead first require definitive affirmative proof that archaeology really does deserve to be considered a science?

Meanwhile, it seems appropriate to view those who identify themselves as archaeologists as being united only in their interest in a subject which has at times attracted thinkers and investigators capable of intellectually rigorous thought and research, but which also undoubtedly attracts others who might best be described as charlatans.

From: [] On Behalf Of JorgL

Sent: Saturday, March 03, 2012 8:33 PM


Subject: [Moneta-L] Turkey Proposes Law to let Museums Sell Unused Antiquities

I don't know how well the translation engines work but basically Turkey is looking at allowing museums to sell unused antiquities after they've been in storage one year. If they figure out a way to include individual finders things would look good.

Jorg Lueke


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