2.0 Other influences affecting the area of study

2.1 Introduction

This section traces the main influences affecting thinking about the area of study, since the late 18th century to the present day as they relate to burial archaeology. It is intended to lend perspective to the way in which the discussion is developed. Archaeology has been on a gradually accelerating trajectory since the early 19th century, and there have been points both within the discipline and outside it which have signalled significant advances either immediately or with delayed effect. For convenience, these are used to divide the narrative into three time periods, one ending around 1900, the next around 1960 and the third taking the narrative to the present. It explores the main contemporary influences of other disciplines (such as sociology, the natural sciences, and anthropology) as they themselves developed and were exploited by archaeologists and historians seeking to explain the mortuary material and the mortuary contexts discovered. The review seeks to show the way in which discovery and interpretation of the archaeological material has been and still is subject to a growing number of influences, and to show how understanding is still developing in the discipline of attitudes to disposal of the dead in the long period under examination.

Three main strands are identified:

2.2 Attitudes to data and methods

2.3 Summary for late 18th century and 19th century

2.4 Summary for 20th century: 1900-1960

2.5 Summary for 20th century: 1960-2000

2.6 Three brief case studies

It would be wrong to leave the impression that archaeologists since 1960 have uniformly confined their practice of archaeological theory and method to single issues in their studies or on sites. Three examples of excavations of different kinds carried out in different circumstances follow to demonstrate otherwise. The sites date from the Neolithic, the Late Neolithic-Late Bronze Age and the Iron Age respectively.

View case studies: Hazleton North | Kalis Corner | Danebury


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