in context are the basis for all understanding;
archaeology is a science of context. (Sara Chavarria)
The things that people own can
tell something about the person. The objects a person has chosen to
leave can indicate the person's age, gender and interests. For example,
a basketball and a football jersey in someone's bedroom suggests that
the owner likes sports. Posters of cars and a collection of toy cars
could mean that the person is a car enthusiast or a design-technology
teacher. The objects (artefacts) can only tell a complete story if they
are found together, where their owners left them (in context).
Archaeologists rely on the
objects that people made (artefacts) and where they left them (context)
to learn the story of past people.
Think of a prehistoric pottery bowl, beautifully painted. It has
a very different meaning if it is found at a prehistoric site in a grave
than if it is found full of corn in an ancient storage room. It's
meaning changes further if it is found in someone's modern living room -
the bowl has now lost its original context and all connection with its
prehistoric owners. It has become only a thing, no longer a messenger
from the past.
Archaeologists preserve the
context of artefacts they recover from sites by recording the location
of everything they find. The artefact and its context provide more
information to the archaeologist than could the artifact alone. When
context is lost, information is lost.
Explain what is meant by
What might the meaning be of
a prehistoric pottery bowl if it is found at a prehistoric site in a
What might be the meaning be
of a prehistoric pottery bowl if it is found full of corn in an
ancient storage room?
Why is Pompeii such an
important archaeological site? (see in addition McIntosh p.28)
If a prehistoric pottery
bowl is in a modern living room, why does it stop becoming being a
messenger of the past? What information have we lost?