English summary

When archaeological knowledge is constructed

Jette Ros­tock

By apply­ing sym­met­ric archae­ol­o­gy this the­sis exam­ines how things and mate­ri­al­i­ty take part in the archae­o­log­i­cal prac­tice and knowl­edge pro­duc­tion. Stud­ies of archae­o­log­i­cal prac­tice can pro­vide a bet­ter under­stand­ing of the archae­o­log­i­cal knowl­edge pro­duc­tion and qual­i­fy future work on the pro­fes­sion­al development.

Usu­al­ly archae­o­log­i­cal sci­ence stud­ies the past in order to learn about the past. Post­proces­su­al archae­ol­o­gy, how­ev­er, put the archae­o­log­i­cal prac­tice and knowl­edge pro­duc­tion on the agen­da as a study in its own right. Still this is not reflect­ed in Den­mark, where we have a more pos­i­tivis­tic sci­ence tradition.

Archae­ol­o­gy has fol­lowed the mod­ern way of think­ing in dichotomies. Things have not been seen as hav­ing val­ue in itself. The post­proces­su­al archae­ol­o­gy attempts to con­front moder­ni­ty through the use of a sym­met­ri­cal atti­tude. It is a key con­cern not to divide the world in humans and non-humans already before the analy­sis – all is regard­ed as equal.

Ethno­gra­phies of archae­o­log­i­cal prac­tice are ethno­graph­ic stud­ies of the ways groups make their prac­tices, rather than stud­ies of their ways of think­ing. With a sym­met­ri­cal atti­tude the exam­ined are not only archae­ol­o­gists, but rather all the many enti­ties involved, when archae­o­log­i­cal knowl­edge is con­struct­ed. In the present work ethno­graph­ic stud­ies at two dif­fer­ent archae­o­log­i­cal sites are car­ried out. The aim of the stud­ies is not to judge whether or not the var­i­ous meth­ods are ade­quate, but rather to study what hap­pens when archae­o­log­i­cal knowl­edge is con­struct­ed, and how things (non-humans) take part in this process.

The study con­cludes that sym­met­ric atti­tude in rela­tion to ethno­gra­phies of archae­o­log­i­cal prac­tice can pro­vide new insight into the com­plex process of archae­o­log­i­cal con­struc­tion of knowl­edge, where enti­ties – archae­ol­o­gists, tools, meth­ods, machines, soft­ware etc. — take part. Fur­ther it becomes evi­dent that knowl­edge does not exist – rather knowl­edge is per­formed and recre­at­ed over and over.