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In conversation with Leo S. Klejn

  • Stephen Leach

This interview discusses the comparison that Klejn draws between archaeology and forensic science. This is a comparison that has been made many times previously by many different archaeologists (and crime writers), but Klejn is unusual in that he explores the implications of their similarity. In his view it is archaeology rather than history that is most closely related to forensic science. The difference between archaeology and history is important because when this difference was ignored, in the Soviet Union, it was to the detriment of both disciplines. Hence Klejn's continued concern – that the difference between archaeology and history is still, to some extent, ignored. Other subjects discussed include Klejn's view of the role of theory in relation to practice, his criticisms of New Archaeology and postprocessual archaeology, typology, the underlying principles of archaeology, ethnogenesis and the history of archaeology. Of course, in an interview of this length not all of these subjects are covered in great depth but it is hoped that enough is said that the reader may appreciate something of the nature and originality of Klejn's views.

Corresponding author
*Stephen Leach, Philosophy Department, Keele University, UK. Email: s.d.leach@
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Klejn, L., 1978: Archaeological sources, St Petersburg (published in Russian).
Klejn, L., 1982: Archaeological typology, Oxford.
Klejn, L., 1993: The phenomenon of Soviet archaeology, St Petersburg (published in Russian).
Klejn, L., 1993–94: The functions of archaeological theory, Journal of archaeological theory 3–4, 139.
Klejn, L., 1994: Overcoming national romanticism in archaeology, Fenoscandia archaeologia 11, 8788.
Klejn, L., 2000: Archaeology in the saddle. Kossinna at a distance of 70 years, Stratum plus 4, 88140 (published in Russian).
Klejn, L., 2001a: Meta-archaeology, Acta archaeologica 72 (1), 1149 (special edition).
Klejn, L., 2001b: The principles of archaeology, St Petersburg (published in Russian).
Klejn, L., 2008: Bruce Trigger in world archaeology, Bulletin of the history of archaeology 18 (2), 412.
Klejn, L., 2009: The Varangian controversy, St Petersburg (published in Russian).
Klejn, L., 2010: The Montelius formula. Swedish rationalism in the archaeology of Mats Malmer, Donetsk (published in Russian).
Klejn, L., 2011: History of archaeological thought, St Petersburg (published in Russian).
Klejn, L., 2012a: Incorporeal heroes. The origins of Homeric images, Newcastle.
Klejn, L., 2012b: Soviet archaeology. Schools, trends, and history, Oxford.
Mongait, A.L., 1959: Archaeology in the U.S.S.R., Moscow.
Platonova, N., 2010: A history of archaeological thought in Russia, St Petersburg (published in Russian).
Schiffer, M., 1976: Behavioral archaeology, Ann Arbor.
Trigger, B., 1968: Beyond history. The methods of prehistory, New York and London.
Trigger, B., 1989: A history of archaeological thought, Cambridge.
Vishniatsky, L., 2003: Introduction to prehistory, Chişinău (published in Russian).
Abstracts in English of many of Klejn's Russian monographs can be accessed via the website
Burström, M., 1994: An ivory tower in archaeology? A conversation with Leo S. Klejn, Current Swedish archaeology 2, 712.
Immonen, V., 2003: The stratigraphy of a life. An archaeological dialogue with Leo Klejn, Archaeological dialogues 10 (1), 5775.
Kristiansen, K., 1993: Exploring the limits. An interview with Leo Klejn, Journal of European archaeology 1 (1), 184–94.
Taylor, T., 1994: Conversations with Leo Klejn, Current anthropology 34 (5), 723–35.
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Archaeological Dialogues
  • ISSN: 1380-2038
  • EISSN: 1478-2294
  • URL: /core/journals/archaeological-dialogues
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