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Archaeological Argument : Some Principles*

  • R. M. Cook

Classical archaeology has a bad name with many prehistorians, partly because of its preoccupation with aesthetics, partly because it regards matenal remains as subsidiary to literature. But even if the exponents of Greek archaeology appear amateurish, their subject has a theoretical value for prehistoric studies. Excavation has been extensive and written records often provide checks on conclusions that might be suggested by the material evidence. I give some examples.

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1 K. Kübler in Bericht über d. VI Internat. Kongressfilr Archàologie, 428-30. For the evidence (and revised conclusions) see Kerameikos, I, IV, V and VI.

2 M. Ventris and J. Chadwick, Documents in Mycenaean Greek, 125-7.

3 Cicero, de Leg., II, 59 and 64. Plutarch, Solon, 21.

4 The economic conclusions to be drawn from Greek pottery are discussed more fully in J.d.I., 1959, in proof. To complicate the problem many Classical students assert that the small, narrow-mouthed Corinthian pots were exported full of scent, but there is no good evidence for this.

* Professor J. M. Cook and Mr G. E. Connah were kind enough to read and criticize this paper.

In this short article the Reader in Classical Archaeology in the University of Cambridge discusses some of the methodological problems of archaeology. Often talked about by prehistorians, these major issues of interpretation and inference are seldom discussed by classical archaeologists.

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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