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Fusing the horizons or why context matters: the interdependence of fieldwork and museum study in Mediterranean archaeology

Whitley, Anthony James Monins ORCID: and Osbourne, Robin 2016. Fusing the horizons or why context matters: the interdependence of fieldwork and museum study in Mediterranean archaeology. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 29 (2) , pp. 247-269. 10.1558/jmea.v29i2.32574

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In a recent JMA article (JMA 28.2, December 2015), Robin Osborne argued that Mediterranean archaeology places too much emphasis on fieldwork and too little on museum study. In doing so he has set up an antithesis between two kinds of archaeological practice: the former ‘in the field’, undertaken chiefly by specialists in prehistory, and the latter in the museum, undertaken principally by Classical archaeologists who are also experts in the traditional subjects of sculpture and vase painting. I argue that this antithesis is at best misleading, and a poor guide to how best to turn material evidence into historical knowledge. These issues are explored in relation to a set of case studies where recent survey and fieldwork have shed light on old ‘museum’ material, and where a reappraisal of that material has in turn affected research design in the field as well as historical interpretation. This study concentrates on the results of a number of fieldwork projects (both excavation and survey) covering Archaic and Classical material in eastern Crete, with a particular focus on first on pithoi (storage jars) found in the excavation of houses and then terracotta plaques from various sanctuary deposits. New fieldwork, conducted to modern standards, when combined with a reappraisal of older ‘museum’ material can, when conducted using a range of both new and traditional methods, yield new insights. This combination can offer a true ‘fusion of horizons’, in Gadamer’s (1975) sense.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Publisher: Equinox Publishing
ISSN: 0952-7648
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 12 January 2017
Date of Acceptance: 1 October 2016
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2023 18:39

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