5th Experimental Archaeology Conference Abstract – Jodi Flores

From the 5th Experimental Archaeology Conference, Reading, 2011.

Experimental archaeology as scientific practice: 1796 to present

Jodi Flores

Department of Archaeology, University of Exeter

This paper discusses how experimentation in archaeology rose in popularity as the wider discipline became more systematic and science oriented, and how the popularity of experimental archaeology has fluctuated several times as archaeology tried to find its own place within the realms of the sciences and the humanities. This will be done by analysing primary sources, starting with George Pearson’s experiments on the composition of bronze artefacts from 1796 and ending with recent works that discuss the nature of experimentation in archaeology. I will also include the results of current research into the publication rates of actualistic experiments over the previous decades, some of the techniques that they employ (scientific and otherwise), and interviews with archaeologists who employ experimentation in their research. I will aim to discuss how a scientific methodology like experimental archaeology has fared at times when humanistic approaches were more popular within archaeology, how archaeological experiments utilised new scientific techniques and ideas, and how this has affected how experimental archaeology is approached in current archaeology.

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