About the Book

Evidential Reasoning in Archaeology

Robert Chapman and Alison Wylie

Bloomsbury Press, 2016

How do archaeologists work with the material traces they identify as a record of the cultural past? How are these data collected and how are they construed as evidence? What is the impact on archaeological practice of new techniques of data recovery and analysis (especially those that originate in the physical and life sciences)? How do archaeologists work with old evidence in pursuit of new interpretations, and how do they adjudicate conflicting evidential claims based on the same or overlapping bodies of data?

To answer these questions, the authors of this book identify key examples of evidential reasoning in archaeology that are widely regarded as successful, as pivotal to the development of the field, or as instructive failures, and build nuanced analyses of the forms of reasoning they exemplify. This case-based approach is predicated on a conviction that archaeological practice is a repository of considerable methodological wisdom, embodied in tacit norms and skilled expertise; it is rarely made explicit, except when contested, and has been largely obscured by the abstractions of high profile crisis debates. Evidential Reasoning in Archaeology captures this wisdom in a set of close-to-ground principles of best practice.