In their thoughts on the future of archaeological thought, Ian Hodder and Lewis Binford offer drastically conflicting perspectives. Binford argues that social history can be investigated using the processes of archaeology, yet he shows little interest in the meaning associated with an artifact or the corresponding connection between the creator of that artifact and its user. In contrast, Hodder believes that culture itself is mental, and emphasizes the importance of understanding the artifact in order to comprehend the associated cultural realities. Binford resists the notion that artifacts themselves are merely markers of time and space, as he sees these artifacts as being crucial to understanding the dynamic nature of the social group that incorporated that artifact into its culture. Yet unlike Binford, Hodder implies that archaeology is a study unto itself and should not be associated with anthropology.
[...] Binford celebrates a systemic view of culture and sets forth a comprehensive argument in which he emphasizes the importance of thinking about data in terms of total cultural systems, a perspective that Hodder vehemently opposed in his later work. Binford suggests that without this totalitarian approach, many prehistoric mysteries will remain unsolved. Thus it would seem that Binford invokes the value of inter-disciplinarity in solving the world's cultural enigmas, as he feels that archaeologists have access to a great deal of data that would likely provide a solution to many problems within the general field of anthropology, a notion to which Hodder is extremely resistant. [...]
[...] Binford even goes so far as to infer that some basic assumptions about the nature of archaeological record are not grounded in empirical fact and therefore there are serious reasons to doubt these assumptions in the absence of the appropriate testing: the eyes of the conventionalist one principle only can help us to select a system at the chosen one from among all other possible systems; it is the principle of selecting the simplest system the simplest system of implicit definition; which of course means in practice the ‘classical' system of the (Binford 292). [...]
[...] The study of ethno-archaeology has had a significant affect on the discipline as a whole and it was the ongoing dispute between both Ian Hodder and Lewis Binford that ultimately precipitated the rise of post- processualism. Yet Binford and Hodder aligned in some ways, as both theorists aimed to direct studies of archaeology to the present by trying to establish a connection between present behavior and past events. Hodder determined that it was necessary to understand people's attitudes and beliefs in order to understand the material culture itself; that is to say, the material itself meant little without the proper contextual accompaniment. [...]
[...] Hodder's ongoing critique of archaeological thought continues with his 1992 article, “Towards a Coherent Archaeology”, Hodder begins by summarizing what he feels is the main issue. Specifically, he contends that objective, natural science must be limited to that which is non-arbitrary and universal, and must therefore ignore much of what makes people human. Yet at the same time, a commitment to creativity and culture is not considered to be bound by the constraints of what Hodder terms “scientific rigor”, and therefore, these subjective accounts of reality or fiction can not be significant in contrast to the objectivity of factual data. [...]
[...] Hodder cites Binford's dichotomous perspective upon the relationship between culture and function, and history and process as a major hindrance to the progression of archaeological thought. Hodder maintains that the modern conception of the Archaeology” can be enhanced, reinforced and ultimately advanced by a reprioritization of the discipline's focus. In Hodder's opinion, culture, ideology and structure should become central concerns. Hodder's criticism of the Archaeology” continues in his 1992 article entitled Processual Reaction”, in which he discusses the impossibility of testing theories against objective data about unobservable parts of past cultural systems. [...]
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