Why archaeology, in all of its components, is a social science


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It is often said that archaeology lies at the interface between the natural and social sciences, as demonstrated by its range of publications, the distribution of its research teams, and its varied theoretical propositions. By re-examining these theoretical propositions and suggesting a new object for this science, it becomes possible to find a unity and uniqueness specific to archaeology. Based on the idea of the aggregate, and then exploring the minimalist ontology of the philosopher F. Wolff (things, events, people), it is suggested that what is being referred to is a world at our own scale and within our own semantic field, but which is designed using concepts developed by the other social sciences. While the use of analyses (physicochemical, biological) is increasingly common, these are not the determining aspect of archaeological discourse, which cannot present its constituent parts independently of all points of view, unlike the natural sciences.

To cite this article

Boissinot P., 2017 – Why archaeology, in all of its components, is a social science, in Boissinot P. (dir.), Archaeology and social sciences, University of Toulouse Jean Jaurès, P@lethnology, 9, 86-94.