I have a background in archaeology (almost finished my MA). I left archaeology for two reasons. Firstly because theres absolutley no work for archaeologists. Secondly, because I got really fuckin tired of it – for many good reasons – the nature of the subject it self not the least.
There are brilliant archaeologists out there. I know a couple of them and I have the deepest respect for their knowledge. And I still love so much about the history and prehistory of man. The middle ages are a topic I constantly read about for example.
But then there are those archaeologists who just produce and preach pure pseudoscience. Ive had my share of teachers that most certainly wasnt up to the standards I demand. Scientific standards that is. There are a lot of archaeologists who doesnt understand the purpose and limitations of science. And there are also those who DO know the purpose and limitations of archaeology, but on the other hand then makes the mistake to presume that the limitations of humanities applies to natural science as well.
One good example of this, pointed out by a Swedish archaeologist is the debacle surrounding a supposed impact event during the bronze age of Bavaria. Depicted in for example greek and roman stories. He made a nice blogpost. His post is brilliant actually unlike my rabble of a post – but its what he write about and the fact that there are people that takes a stand against his post that bothers me and makes my want to emphasise on more aspects. (One could also see comments on the post on Facebook).
The problem starts when people truly not understand that if geologists examine a supposed impact crater – and instead finds a lake that originated from something else – then that its not open for debate by people who dont know geology.
Dont get me wrong, geologists can make mistakes on topics of geology and in those cases those mistakes will be pointed out by some other geologists – since the question is purely geological!
But thats not the issue Im writing about – the issue is that a study in natural science can provide proof in a manner that humanities cannot. If a ancient story says that a lake is a result of an impact, and the geologists can rule that out – then theres not a question of two just as likely or equal theories on that lake. One is a scientific theory. The other one is a claim in an ancient text. It doesnt matter if there are thousands of historians and archaeologists that find the text plausible – if the lake in question isnt a crater – the lake in question isnt a crater! No argumentation from any historian or archaeologist can change that fact.
People just dont get that sometimes. Really bright and educated people. But especially people with absolutley no background in natural science. People who tend to use phrases such as: “Oh we dont know everything today but we think we are so smart. Look at what the ancient chinese/babylonians/atlanteans knew long before science could prove it….”
Sure. Geologists can make mistakes and in some aspects geology can be (funny enough – pun intended) considered a “soft” branch of natural science that sometimes includes theories that you cannot prove in a lab more than you can prove archaeology in that manner. Somethings are “just theories”. But a soft geological theory is still ten times harder than any one based on ancient tales from a book.
My point is not to bash archaeology – but to bash all those morons out there who doesnt understand the difference in scientific value between the geological proof and that of the ancient tale.