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The Future of Classical Archaeology

Broadly, archaeology scientifically studies prehistoric and historical human activities by recovering and analyzing material culture. As such, archaeologists excavate and describe past human-made objects ranging from simple tools such as stone daggers to complex structures as temples and cathedrals. On the other hand, classical archaeology has traditionally focused its attention on examining the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome.

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These investigations were prompted and inspired in renaissance Europe by the study of ancient Greek and Latin writings. In reviewing the extant texts, art, and other cultural artifacts from that early period, the conviction gradually developed that Greek and Roman culture constituted the entire western civilization’s foundation. This paper seeks to show that the discipline of classical archeology is destined to flourish because it bears the very tenets on which archeology proper is built.

Intentionality is critical in any undertaking, academic or otherwise. Therefore, the academy should play a leading role in the social transformation to better human society at a global level. This paper argues that different disciplines are dealing with similar questions to no small extent, that technological advancement discourages excessive specialization. In line with the process of globalization, alternative interpretations of data need to be considered.

Classical archeology is built on robust archaeological theories which define and act as tenets of the broader discipline of archeology. It utilizes a combination of historic and prehistoric archeological techniques to study such varied evidence as settlement data, craft goods, environmental materials, and architectural remains (Willmes et al., 2020). As such, classical archeology fits within the world of archeology since other archeological and anthropological disciplines apply the same methods of practice. Additionally, the classical study of antiquity draws primarily from insight offered by ancient texts, mostly written in Latin and Greek (Carpino, 2019).

The combination of knowledge derived from the antique writings with ancient Greek and Roman artifacts offers an essential tool for learning other cultures and civilizations (Kajda et al., 2018). Its position within the broader field of archeology is further cemented by its massive contributions to the disciplines of social sciences and humanities.

As with any academic discipline, classical archaeology has its specific needs relating to the Mediterranean, which require specialized knowledge. However, as mentioned above, the various approaches differ according to the intentionality of the researchers. Classical archaeology was revered because it drew upon the concept of Hellenism. This involves the study and imitation of Greek culture meant that Europe obtained values from classical archaeology to pass these to their posterity, not only because they claimed Greek culture as the root of all European civilization, but also because it served European nationalism (Carpino, 2019).

Times have changed, and it is now known that individuals operate in a more pluralistic society. This pluralism is reflected in academies, where all disciplines are now treated equally. This aspect of classical archeology is guided by the Greek philosophy which also intends to be passed in its purest form from one generation to another. It remains valid today because core themes studied under classical archeology are still vital to the study of archeology proper.

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Similar to archeology, classical archeology can be developed into an independent discourse. Historically, the former grew from antiquarianism in Europe around the 19th century to become a distinct discipline in its domain (Carpino, 2019). As a subsection of anthropology, the two broad elements are the historical and prehistorical study, each demanding different methodological analysis. Therefore, developing any of the two general groups into independent fields is ideally plausible.

An enormous amount of information is available as bequeathed to classical archeology enthusiasts; thus, the remaining task is an advancement to more extensive research. Its study’s significance is relevant in understanding the present cultures since it concludes by examining recent traditions for comparison. Individuals must know their past norms and modes of reasoning to appreciate their present better.

Historical importance and classical archeology’s role in the civilization of cultures attached to the study equally supports its growth. It covers both the pre and post-literate times of the past to build a general perspective on the chronological transition of traditions. However, it has less linguistic examination, unlike the former, which provides a suitable position for the advancement of other significant areas. Maintaining the datasets is relatively straightforward because of the global quality, comparative potential, and integrative possibilities attached to it. The development can take any form since it has elements from different fields such as science and humanities.

Additionally, the porous boundaries which prompt interaction with other areas of specialties promote its independence capacity. Because of the contributions to the understanding of society, it can be developed through interdisciplinary examination. Therefore, classical archeology can remain as an independent discipline in order to maintain and sharpen its focus on the Mediterranean antiquity. Its combination with mainstream anthropology would obscure the vital relevance it poses in terms of archeological theory. Nevertheless, considering the future of archeology as part of anthropology would improve data collection techniques and analysis since anthropology is better at studying people and communities.

Classical archeology has a future with or without the primary actors because of its broad nature. It covers the concept of area studies focusing on a plethora of topics such as kinship, minorities, language, and religion. Although they can easily cause intellectual blindness, area studies are useful, which restricts anthropological imagination and analysis (MacMullen, 2020). The current main actors limit the rate of the transition process; thus, there is a need for new exuberant members.

For instance, researchers who have gone beyond the boundaries have been censored. Therefore, a change in the influential archeologists can lead to the growth of area scholars who can integrate comparative findings from other fields. In the establishment of colonialism in Africa, ethnographic studies were seen as important aspects of the development of the colonies (Montecchi & Mercuri, 2018). When these states achieved their independence, the roles and approaches changed where each ethnographer focused on their people.

There are remarkable differences in the modes of ethnographic deductions across diverse cultures. The anthropologist thus needs to develop self-awareness because of the rising criticism. Scholars outside the Anglo-American world continually identify the biases of the west in their studies (Arponen, 2019). In contrast, those in India, the Middle East, and Pakistan point out America’s difficulties in appreciating other traditions. Foreign schools play an essential role in comparing data from different areas and periods in time (Kearns, 2017). As such, they provide essential service from the Mediterranean perspective, where every culture is appreciated. They somewhat disregard the colonialist agenda of ethnography while promoting a comparative approach.

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Classical archaeology will need to adapt by deepening its cooperation with other disciplines to survive. The study of cultural artifacts has always been a collaborative process. The need for collaboration will only intensify as advancing technology make available a wide variety of new tools and, therefore, new approaches (Carruthers & Van Damme, 2017). This partnership should be welcomed because collaboration with other disciplines will help classical archaeology to overcome its limitations.

Furthermore, it is not a question of giving up its identity but a redefinition and broadening of its scope. It is, therefore, fair and to open it up to other models and points of view. European societies have drawn inspiration and motivation from Greek and Roman antiquity (MacMullen, 2020). They have also used that past to validate their present, and that authentication has had positive and negative aspects. Classical archaeology has no option but to broaden its perspective to accommodate a more pluralistic view and minimize the misuse of the past.

There is always a time lag between changes in societies and the educational system’s alterations in response to those societal transitions. That is why Bertrand Russel wrote that what students are taught in schools is at least half a century outdated (Montecchi & Mercuri, 2018). A paradigm shift is necessary in order to allow for a more collaborative approach in teaching and hiring. This radical change will provide for a broader and more culturally diverse understanding of societal development. It shall also enable a better appreciation of available cultural artifacts. In short, classical archaeology is facing an identity crisis in a fast-changing world.

To conclude, intentionality is critical in any undertaking, academic or otherwise. It is crucial that the academy play a leading role in social transformation for the betterment of human society at a global level. Classical archaeology should, therefore, adapt in order to retain its relevance. It should adopt a more integrative approach as this is a sure way to increase the understanding of ancient Greece and Rome. The new integrative approach will also allow classical archaeology to use its data sets and develop ideas that have application in other disciplines.

Annotated Bibliography

Carpino, A. A. (2019). The diversity of classical archaeology: Edited by Achim Lichtenberger and Rubina Raja (Studies in Classical Archaeology 1). Etruscan and Italic Studies, 22(1-2), 171-173.

The text was useful in familiarizing with the book’s various concepts. However, I did not obtain all the required information for the assignment from the source single handedly. Moreover, it was aimed to analyze recent research to show the rejuvenated vitality in the field. The book has a brief introduction with five sections. The sections include learning from the past, breaking up disciplines, unlocking time and space, art and material culture in the making, and perceptions. The writing is insightful in examining the viability of archeology to stand on its own as an independent discipline.

Montecchi, M. C., & Mercuri, A. M. (2018). When palynology meets classical archaeology: The Roman and medieval landscapes at the Villa del Casale di Piazza Armerina, UNESCO site in Sicily. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 10(4), 743-757.

The research is relevant to this paper because of the new way of understanding the present landscape through the past broadening classical archeology. The text involves an analysis of cooperative objects with national and local institutions in central Sicily. Moreover, the discovery of vitis pollen grains within the Roman site provided more in-depth insight into the landscape during the then periods. It is plausible to conclude that the area was open, treeless with hilly vegetation.

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Willmes, C., Niedziółka, K., Serbe, B., Grimm, S. B., Groß, D., Miebach, A. & Mateos, A. (2020). State of the art in paleoenvironment mapping for modeling applications in archeology—Summary, conclusions, and future directions from the PaleoMaps Workshop. Quaternary 2020, 3(2), 13. Web.

The text presents contributions, discussions, and outcomes derived from the Paleomaps Workshop 2019. The workshop’s primary aim included providing an overview of theories and methodologies used to integrate paleoenvironmental information into human-environment interaction. As such, it builds from the current modeling applications to design better ways. The report describes an analysis of the presented papers and the protocols following thereafter. It provides fundamental literature that future research will build on. It is relevant to this paper because of the background information it provides that supports the legitimacy of developing classical Archeology into a discipline.

Kajda, K., Marx, A., Wright, H., Richards, J., Marciniak, A., Rossenbach, K. S., Michal P., Monique H., Krijn B., Maria P. G., Felipe C., David B., Anita S., Kostantinos K., Kostantinos K., Eleftheria T., Friedrich L., Mayssoun I. & Criado-Boado, F. (2018). Archaeology, heritage, and social value: Public perspectives on European archaeology. European Journal of Archaeology, 21(1), 96-117.

The article helped me understand the general perception of archeology and how the public view is influenced across Europe. The discussions were focused on the significance of the contemporary archeological study. The first area is archeology’s image and how the general populace defines it. In the second phase, it considers the values that archeology offers and social expectations. The text supports my ideology that there is remarkable European thought that it should work alongside other disciplines. Cultural heritage management engagement requires interaction with other discourses, which is more readily achieved by advancing classical archeology.

Kearns, C. (2017). Mediterranean archeology and environmental histories in the spotlight of the Anthropocene. History Compass, 15(10), e12371.

The text recognizes the rapid technological growth, which continually advances scientific and humanistic research, especially on anthropogenic effects on earth systems. The systems include features such as climate, which mainly result in a controversial proposal that we live in an Anthropocene epoch. It provides a broader view of how humans have been the forces of global change. Besides, it analyzes the archeologists and historians’ conception of social and environmental change in Mediterranean antiquity. The revolution experienced in the scientific world is useful in advancing historical archeology.

MacMullen, R. (2020). Top Scholars in Classical and Late Antiquity. History of Classical Scholarship, 2, 105-114.

The article offers a recent move towards analysis and bibliographic evidence to examine ancient history. The article was useful for this research because of the background information it provided. The collection of past works offers substantial proof that the existing literature is comprehensive enough to support historical archeology as an autonomous discipline. However, the text overly focuses on criticism of Walter Scheidel and Nathan Pilkitong, who researched the impact of previous iconic scholars.

Carruthers, W., & Van Damme, S. (2017). Disassembling archeology, reassembling the modern world. History of Science, 55(3), 255-272.

The text provides significant findings on the discussion of the applicability of archeology’s history to science. Besides, it outlines the papers contained within its unique issue as evidence of the relevance of the two discourses. The historical, thematic assessments of archeology overlaps with those of science and its regimes in antiquarianism. It also discusses the issues relating to the professionalization of the archeological public, colonialism, empire, and circulation of knowledge. Other inclusive data is the enriching enlightenment on scientific ethics, museums, material cultures. The information from this article was essential in explaining the validity of retaining classical archeology as a disciple due to its privileged position.

Arponen, V. P. J., Grimm, S., Käppel, L., Ott, K., Thalheim, B., Kropp, Y.,… & Ribeiro, A. (2019). Between natural and human sciences: On the role and character of theory in socio-environmental archeology. The Holocene, 29(10), 1671-1676.

It reflects on the skepticism of most scholars on theory in archeology because of the new technological inventions. The article further analyzes the interrelationship between scientific advancements and theoretical stands within socio-environmental archeology. As such, there is a critical need to integrate the two to have versions of each other in a unified whole. The conceptual discussions of archeology such as evolutionism would serve more than a dismissal of one of the essential elements. The text is thus essential in proving the autonomy of classical archeology. The new methodologies and techniques to be applied are likely to further broaden the field with new members and existing ones.

References

Arponen, V. P. J., Grimm, S., Käppel, L., Ott, K., Thalheim, B., Kropp, Y., Konrad Ott, k., Thalheim, B., Kropp, Y., Kittig, K., , Brinkmann, J., & Ribeiro, A. (2019). Between natural and human sciences: On the role and character of theory in socio-environmental archeology. The Holocene, 29(10), 1671−1676. Web.

Carpino, A. A. (2019). The diversity of classical archaeology. Etruscan and Italic Studies, 22(1-2), 171−173. Web.

Carruthers, W., & Van Damme, S. (2017). Disassembling archeology, reassembling the modern world. History of Science, 55(3), 255−272.

Kajda, K., Marx, A., Wright, H., Richards, J., Marciniak, A., Rossenbach, K. S., Marciniak, a., Rossenbach, K.S., Pawleta, M., Van den Dries, H, M., Boom, K., Guermandi, M, P., Criado-Boado, F., Barreiro, D., Synnestvedt, A., Kotsakis, K., Kasvikis, K., Theodoroudi, E., Luth, F., Issa, M.,& Frase, I. (2018). Archaeology, heritage, and social value: Public perspectives on European archaeology. European Journal of Archaeology, 21(1), 96−117.

Kearns, C. (2017). Mediterranean archeology and environmental histories in the spotlight of the Anthropocene. History Compass, 15(10), 5, (98-101).

MacMullen, R. (2020). Top scholars in classical and late antiquity. History of Classical scholarship, 2, 105−114.

Montecchi, M. C., & Mercuri, A. M. (2018). When palynology meets classical archaeology: The Roman and medieval landscapes at the Villa del Casale di Piazza Armerina, UNESCO site in Sicily. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 10(4), 743-757.

Willmes, C., Niedziółka, K., Serbe, B., Grimm, S. B., Groß, D., Miebach, A., Miebach, A., Henselowsky, F., Gamisch, A., Rostami, M., Mateos, A., Rodríguez, J., Limberg, H., Schmidt, I., Muller, M., Hölzchen, E., Holthausen, M., Klein, K., Wegener, C & Mateos, A. (2020). State of the art in paleoenvironment mapping for modeling applications in archeology—Summary, conclusions, and future directions from the PaleoMaps Workshop. Quaternary 2020, 3(2), 13. Web.

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