9th Experimental Archaeology Conference abstract – Chowaniec and Bursche
An archaeological experiment: a method of museum education or joke with science?
Roksana Chowaniec and Aleksander Bursche
Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw, Poland
The archaeological discoveries in the late nineteenth century have influenced to the progress of various research methods, including the formation of the scientific basis of the archaeological experiments. Over the decades, original statements of experimental archaeology underwent transformations. Also, the idea of presenting the results of experiments to the wide audience has born. Since that time, issues related to experimental archaeology, but first of all the aspects related to the non-experts education, are very popular in literature and usually referred in the context of the open air archaeological museums. In time, the archaeological experiments also began to engage the observers (audience) and the presentations became to be an interactive. Until now it enjoyed a huge popularity.
And so we are confronted with a dilemma. On the one hand, the experimental archaeology is one of the most interesting methods of education for wide public. But on the other hand, scientific archaeological experiment, which employs a number of methods, techniques, analyses, and approaches, based upon archaeological, iconographical, numismatic and epigraphical source material, needs the time to be done, an attention to details and scientific process to be implemented, to which is no time during the shows to the public. Willy-nilly, such presentations are simplified and everything is served in brief, to save time and energy. Because visitors need to understand the complex technological process and very often they have no time and patience to observe long demonstration.
Therefore perhaps, this type of shows, involving the archaeological experiments, is the simplification of scientific archaeological methods and research? Possibly it should not be named archaeological experiments but only the entertainment method for the people? Should be called as the archaeological experiment the presentation how to make a pot or brooch? It seems that it does not, because the experiment in their assumptions is not designed for making the artefact copy, but designed for recognizing the whole process of creation, using and also depositing the archaeological find.