contextual archaeology

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An approach to archaeological interpretation proposed by Ian Hodder in the mid 1980s in which emphasis is placed on methods of identifying and studying contexts in order to understand meaning. This involves two lines of enquiry. The first is to consider the environmental and behaviour context of action; understanding an object, for example, by placing it in relation to the larger functioning whole from which it is drawn. Second, it involves looking at the networks of associations that objects were placed within in the past and attempting to read meaning from such groupings as if the objects were words in text. The analogy here is that words on their own mean relatively little; it is only when they are put together in structured ways that the overall meaning becomes clear.

Subjects: Archaeology.

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