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7. The Future of Archaeology Author(s): V. Gordon Childe Reviewed work(s): Source: Man, Vol. 44 (Jan. - Feb., 1944), pp.

18-19 Published by: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2791898 . Accessed: 12/11/2011 17:45
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Nos. 6, 7]


1944. [January-February,

its staffis appointed as an anthropologist. Study of the native peoples of the BritishEmpire froma physical point of view still receivesno official recognition, except to a very limited extent in India. In this respect it must be admittedthat we have been thpleast progressive of the colonial powers.

should be counted as applied rather than pure physical anthropology,though it is obviously of interestto the student of human evolution. MRS. C. B. S. HODsoN referred the connexions between to anthropology and human genetics, race crossing being a concern of both studies. MPI. S. E. MANw and MR. V. BRELSFORD spoke.

So farI have been commenting what may be called on pure physicalanthropology. This is the academic study The Future of Archaeology. By Professor V. Gordon of the biological historyof mankind. It is pursued for Childe,F.B.A. its own sake withthe object ofincreasing and knowledge, by are Humaninstitutions conditioned past events; it is of cultural,not of practical, value. But the data can theirfunctioning onlybe fullyunderstoodin the and methods of the study may be applied to practical light of history. For this reason, if for no other, in affairs 'variousways. must be an integral part of the Science of archa3ology In-the first place thereare many group problemsdeal- Man. Moreover,it is the abstract,and therefore potening with human biologyand population questions which tially scientific, aspect of human historyas contrasted can the anthropologist help to investigate. In the inter- with literary history, which, dealing essentially with pretation of medical and demographic statistics for a individual persons and events, can less easily be made particularcountrythe racial factoris one which should the basis for scientificgeneralizations. In fact this be taken into account. This can only be done if an Institute itselfhas contributedin no small measure to adequate anthropologicalsurvey has been made. The making archaeologya science in the British Isles. I survey will provide standards of size and weight for mighteasily confirm surveyof its this by a retrospective adults; which are of interestin connexionwith problems publications and its presidents. But this afternoonwe of nutrition,constitutionaltypes, diseased conditions, are concerned,not with the past, but with the future. and the assessmentofphysicalfitness. Extension of the Now the centuryjust past has witnessedthe creation enquiry to cover children,and to provide comparisons of a scientificmethod for archaeologyand primarily, between different social classes, is obviouslydesirable. apart fromthe inventionand elaboration of techniques, In June, 1939, a committee of this Institute was the establishmentof a rigorous but workable basis of appointed for the purpose of urging the authoritiesto classification. The basis had to be threefold, the undertake an anthropological survey of militiamen. classification tridimensional-functional,chronological, Negotiationshaving this object in view were suspended and cultural. Thanks to collaboration with another when war was declared. If the survey had been made branch of the Science of Man to be dealt with by R. U. its resultswould undoubtedlyha-vebeen of considerable Sayce (MAN, 1944, 9), the main categories of the first rnilitary value. The head and body measurenAents classification have been prettyexhaustivelyenumerated; or recordedbv anthropologists, adaptations ofthemmade we are no longerpuzzled as to what a 'celt' was used for, for special purposes, give infQrmationof value to and have reduced to modest dimensions our oddment designersof militaryequipment, including clothes, air- box of ' ritual objects.' In chronologya provisional craft,tanks, and submarines. Or if the thingsare made, order has been established though there are still very the data in question will show how men can best be serious ambiguitiesto be cleared up. New techniques selected for special duties. This is the second way in that have been developed duringthe last two decadeswhich physical anthropology may be applied. tree-rings, pebble-counts varved-clays,pollen-analysis, The third sphere of application,is of a very different open up vistas for their clarification that must be kind. One of the major activities of the physical explored more fully.. And still bettermethods must be is of anthropologist the racial classification modernman invented. But we may hope that the existing lacunae on the basis of body characters. He usually findsthat will in time be filledin,and in the meantimemake use of his conclusionsare entirelydifferent fromthe dogmatic the available scheme with all its defects. statementsregarding racial constitution particular the of The cultural classificationis a more recent developdisci- ment. The earlierstudentsof man's past, and especially populations made by writerswho ignorescientific pline. Since certain racial dogmas have acquired great those recruitedfrom the natural sciences in the great in political significance recentyears, a rational exposure days of Darwinism,conceived of human progress as a of their fallaciousnessmay be of considerablepractical linear development-a method of approach that found importance. This matteris being consideredat present its classic expression in archawology de Mortillet's in by our Committeeon Race and Racialism. in systemand in ethnography Morgan's stages. But the The problems of anthropologyare more diversified historicalinadequacy of such a way of lookingat affairs than those of any otherscience. Its needs are manifold is self-evident, only because the archaeological material if in and there is no difficulty finding new lines of enquiry represents adaptations of distincthuman societiesto the which might be pursued with piofit. We may confi- different concept of a environments. The archaeological dently anticipate that in the future,as in the past, the culture (culture-group culture-cycle) an attempt to is or Institutewill constantlystriveto returnto the concrete complexity of historical reality Royal Anthropological lessen the gap betweenwhat is and what mightbe. thus caused. It has been and to do justice to differences applied to remainsof the geologically' recent' fruitfully DIscussION. forthe last fifty years,but has spread to the Pleistocene in only during the last twenty. Breuil's paper on the MR. K., L. LITTLE deploredthe lack of publicinterest and on physicalanthropology commented race prejudicein Levalloisean (MAN, 1926, 116) is a landmarkon theway to and thiscountry theneedfor further studyofracecrossing. the application of the new concept to Lower andcMiddle PROFESSORDARYLL FORDE said that the lecturer had not Paleolithic remains in English-speakingcountries. It mentioned that the comparative physiology of 'native ' peoples, including their nutrition in particular, falls within presents archaeologistswith an enormous but urgent task. The vast accumulations of palaeolithsamassed in the scope of physical anthropology. in DR. MORANT. replv. expressed the view that this topic Drivate collectionsand public museums duringseventy-

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1944.] January-February,


[Nos.7, 8

fiveyearsneed revisionand re-classification. And in thE to Classical and Byzantine Greece,Islamic Syria, Budprocess the very basis of classification must be reviewed dhist and Maurya India, and medieval Europe, as from exploration. It is and refined. Even the primaryd, visioninto ' core ' and the spatial extensionof archweological 'flake' industriesis not universallyaccepted, and may absurd that we know more about an Indian craftsman's than in the thirdcentury not be universallyapplicable or exhaustive. Van Riet tools in the IIlrd. millennium Lowe has queried its validity and the attemptsto class B.C., more of the domestic architecture of neolithic the Sinanthropus industry or the Soan of Burma as Thessaly than of Periclean Athens! Only when such lacunae have been filledin, so that we can compare,for flake-cultures seem to many forced. So our classificatorywork, especially in the third example, average housing conditions and technological dimension,is far frombeing completed. Nevertheless equipment at successive periods in time, shall we be it has advanced far enough even now to serve as the justifiedin venturingon historicalgeneralizationsas to frameworkfor sober attempts at 'explanation,' the the nature, direction,and rate of progresseven in these formulation generalizations unifya mass of isolated domains. of to data. Hitherto explanation in prehistory has been Eventually we may even reach some practical conlargelyin the mythographic stage. It likes to postulate clusions-and utility seems demanded to-day. Potinto that can already be fitted and multiply inadequately documented entities whose sherdsor fliit implements scarcely credible migrations shall 'explain' observed our chronological classificationhave been brought by changes in cultureand similarities flint-work, in ceramic travellersfrom sparsely populated wastes like Makran may decoration, or sepulchral architecturebetween remote and Seistan. They suggestthat these wildernesses regions. But are not 'Children of the Sun' from once have been more thicklysettled,and so prompt the Egypt, or Pre-Vikingsfromthe 03altic,products of the hope of colonizing them again. But the inferenceis same mythopceic fancyas created the fairiesand giants precarious. A survey based on surface finds and test of Celtic and Teutonic folkloreto constructthe same pits may disclose the area of settlementand the relative of monuments, albeit now informedby wider geographical distribution population but may be deceptive if interknowledge,a more systematicpsychology,and a more preted in terms of density of population; ten 'chalcocomprehensive ? ethnography I do not wish to suggest 'lithic' mounds may mean only ten isolated farmsin a housethat migration's and diffiision not legitimateobjects valley now farmedfroma single village of fifty are of archaeological study. On the contrary, theyare vital holds. Only when a typical mound has been totally historicalprocesses, but they must be studied by more excavated and compared with existing settlementscan rigorous means and inferredonly from concrete data. reliable inferencesbe drawn as to the density of past The physical anthropologists have made the Beaker-folk populationsin comparisonwith those of to-day. Whathistoricaland theirmigrations scientific factby the study ever the practical results of such investigation, the of their skulls. Fayence beads from Wessex graves archaeologicaltreatment of population questions once and social anthropology. The make some sort of contact between distant Britain and more unites archaeology the East Mediterraneanworld objectively certain, and fruits of that treatment are already visible; we can such contact is a precondition diffusion; only when form a more reliable estimate of the population of for excavated, than of it is establishedby minuteattentionto the inconspicuous Olynthus,that has been scientifically material relics that were actually transportedby man classical Athens,whose historyis so much better known fromplace to place can diffusion an explanation of from literary sources. Cementing in such ways its as similar rites or motives be more than an attractively alliance with sociology,while maintainingits traditional plausible speculation. relationshipwith technologyand human paleontology, will Archaeology be morescientific, morehistorical archmeology continue to finda natural place within will and too, when it can ask not wherea given societyor culture the unity symbolized by the Royal Anthropological came from, but how that society, already partially Institute. definedby monumentsand relics, developed where we DIscussIoN. findit-in fact,what it did. Our Soviet colleagues have recentlyshown how a prehistoricsociety may thus be MR. M. C. BURKITT deprecated undue emphasis on the studied as a functioning and developing organism and cultural side of archaeologyat the expense of essential typoso have effectively linked archaeologywith the fourth logy and technology. The classification of paleolithic was branch of the Science of Man, with social anthropology. industriesinto core-and flake-industries only a rough and ready distinction,for convenience and without final validity. The excavations at K6ln-Lindenthal and Little Wood- In applying nomenclature, it was important to be perfectly buryillustratethe same linkage,but thev show too that clear about the areas to which referencewas made. for the sociological interpretation a culture the total of the between study a DR. CLARK deprecated falseantithesis excavation of domestic sites is essential. Test-pitsand of objects and the study of societies, since the first was barrow-digging were necessary to establish the chrono- merelya means to the second. Pits and holes were significant logical sequence and the boundaries of cultural groups, not in themselves, but only in so far as they could tell us of i.e. of societies. But where a framework been thus ancient society. has PROFESSOR CHLDE agreed that typology and technology constructedas in Great Britain, Northernand Central but were the Europe, Greece,Egypt, and Mesopotamia,archaeologists held that essential groundwork of archaeological study, by there was scope for more interpretativework should now concentrate theirresourceson the excavation those who had mastered them. of a few sites, selected as representative accordance in with a well-thought-out plan, supplemented by test excavations at equally selected sites, forthe verification The Future of Social Anthropology. By Raymond Firth. of well-considered hypotheses, Collingwoodhas urged. as What I have to say here about the future of social Since we want to trace the developmentof societies, anthropologyis mainly a personal view. I think the sites selectedmust represent everyperiod and not be that most of my fellow anthropologists-using the 3onfined the prehistoric. Indeed I anticipate quite term here and in what follows to apply to the social to 3,sstrikingresults from the extension of the scientific branch of the study alone-will agree with me about the 3rchaeological methodsnow used chiefly prehistorians nature of the major problemsthat lie beforeus, though by

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