1.2 Approach

The typological method has a long history of critical study (e.g. Krieger 1944; Ford and Steward 1954; Brown 1982; Whallon and Brown 1982; Adams and Adams 1991), such that the problems of the approach are well known, and need not be rehearsed further. One alternative would be to return to first principles, disregard the traditional typological approach, and attempt a comprehensive analysis based entirely on attributes. However, early research (e.g. Wilde 1939), and the work of the last 30 years in particular, have left a substantial typological legacy (e.g. Ambrosiani 1981; Curle 1982; Davidan 1977; Flodin 1989; Foster 1990; Luik 1998; MacGregor 1985; Smirnova 2005; Tempel 1969; 1979; Ulbricht 1980; Wiberg 1987), and, unless legitimate grounds can be found for discarding this approach, it would be counterproductive to fail to refer to existing types in some way. Moreover, attempts to describe the European corpus without direct reference to an overarching typology tend to rely on descriptive terminology (e.g. Callmer 1998, 470; Blackmore 2003, 311). This approach has many merits, and is particularly attractive given the availability of coherent, easily applied formal terminologies (e.g. Galloway 1976). However, as Goret (1997, 122-3) has noted, inconsistent or imprecise use of nomenclature is occasionally encountered; notwithstanding the existence of such guidelines, descriptive accounts are not easily reproduced, and in the absence of clear illustration can lead to confusion. In addition, it might be suggested that an approach to recording based entirely upon written description is not the most efficient means by which to characterise the corpus. In the present study, an adjustment of this system is proposed, in which Arabic numerals are used alongside tightly defined descriptive terms. This well-tested approach makes the classification easy to use and refer to, but it should be pointed out that when applying it, reference should always be made to the full type description, rather than simply relying on the 'label'. In addition, it should be said that the classification method does not have a strict mathematical basis, and does not betray positivist sympathies. Rather, the integration of traditional typology and multivariate analyses based upon discrete attributes, together with a nuanced theoretical understanding that does not directly associate particular types with particular 'cultures' or ethnic groups, goes some way to sidestepping the problems of the traditional typological approach. It is intended that this classification be used, when helpful, alongside descriptive accounts of objects. In no way is it suggested that the classification constitutes an alternative to detailed description, or discussion of relevant parallels. Such fine-grained analysis will, of course, always be fundamental to the treatment of artefactual material.


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