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Essay / Research Paper Abstract
This 14 page paper examines a number of works discussing archaeology, and argues that in general archaeologists tend to give more credence to cultures with literary traditions, rather than those that have strictly oral histories. Bibliography lists 8 sources.
14 pages (~225 words per page)
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understand our ancestors lives if were to build a promising future. But archeology is not an exact science; archaeologists have to sift through centuries of dirt, rubble, stories, tales and
records to try and get at the truth. This paper argues that archaeologists tend to give more credit to traditional cultures than to cultures that pass down only an oral
tradition. Discussion We start with one of the most basic of objects, the human skeleton. The study of human bones is problematic, in that they can be considered more than
just a biological object; they are also at the center of a great many cultural observances, and in most cultures are considered sacred. Because of this, the relationship "between interpretative
archaeology, osteoarchaeology, and their theoretical and methodological understandings of the body has become increasingly tense in recent years" (Romer, 2006, p. 735). Archaeology has distanced itself from considering the human
skeleton and left it to biophysical science (Romer, 2006). In her book The body as material culture: A theoretical osteoarchaeology, which Romer reviews, Joanna Sofaer tries to find common
ground between these two extremes; i.e., the body as body and the body as cultural artifact (Romer, 2006). She has done so by "viewing the skeleton as both a material
and a cultural object" (Romer, 2006, p. 735). In her book, Sofaer "discusses the way skeletal material in the mortuary context acts as a mediator between mind/culture and body/nature. Highlighting
the biological and non-biological material of the skeleton as part of a continuing process within the lifecycle of an individual means that the body becomes methodologically accessible" (Romer, 2006, p.
735). If human bone is looked at culturally, it ceases to be either "alive" or "dead," and thus can be considered without archaeologists having to resort to either theorizing about