How should texts and archaeological objects be used together? A researcher might create a one-to-one correction, in which archaeological finds are matched to texts. He or she might use archaeological finds to validate texts and fill in historical lacunae. Archaeological objects and texts could be considered in a "unidirectional analytical" approach, as exemplified by the Cambridge School, in which students and practitioners generally work in both fields. But texts generally prevail in methodological complexity and in evidential status. Long standing and large fields of archaeological study have not changed the balance of power. For instance, neither Classical rural surveys, as interpreted through the Annales paradigm, nor Biblical settlement studies, have firmly established archaeology with its own methods of research and analysis. This volume brings archaeology and text issues to Mediterranean studies and asks each author to address the question of archaeological objects and texts specifically for his or her area of expertise. The articles fall into three general headings: the archaeological-historical dialog (Dyson, Hedrick); the features of archaeology and text specific to Classical and Levantine cultures (Ober, Hitchener, Small); and cross cultural understandings (Kosso, Hesse, Wapnish).
Dyson reviews traditions in textual criticism and reminds us of the complexity of tools available as well as the multiplicity of authorial stances an archaeologist must take. There is first an Urtext/site, and then following it a series of differing texts about the Urtext aimed at a series of audiences, with the intent of creating a powerful intellectual position. A deconstructive approach suggests that sites have multiple meanings and reminds the researcher that not every item was placed intentionally. Among the key documents are the field report, the popular report, the specialized expert report and the final scholarly synthesis. Sites, then, are authored and re-authored with differing problems, questions and approaches. Dyson urges more self-conscious reporting, more self-conscious creation of meaning.
Hedrick uses Thucydides and Herodotus to explicate two views of objects as sources. We give voices to objects, but objects are more durable and long-lasting than the speech attributed to them. Herodotus sees things as being bound up in oral tradition; Thucydides sees things standing outside and independently of tradition. Hedrick, glossing Plato, suggests that just as written words can exist without a speaker, so, too, can objects. For Herodotus, things serve as reminders and reference speech. For Thucydides, written compositions replace lost oral performance but not memory. In his history, "use" is the standard measure for all objects, and use, or utility, equals power. He discusses ships and walls as tools and symbols: to the observers, the signs are as meaningful as the things themselves.
Ober's horoi, which mark boundaries with the Greek letters OPOE (epsilon), rely on an original position for integrity of meaning and marker. They also perform a social function. Ober says "for the knowledgeable member of society that established it, the one-word horos says good deal: I am the boundary of 'x,' established by the legitimate authority 'y,' and you are accordingly ordered to act in the prescribed manner 'z.'” Power to establish a horos is an important power, as claimed by Solon in his governing endeavors. Horoi also apparently function as a set of minor guardian dieties in Athenian ephebe oaths. No archaeological record exactly confirms or explains these, but it is reasonable to suppose the oath's meaning changed with changing times. Well-distributed rock-cut (rupestral) horoi from a similar time period could indicate a central authority and did reinforce deme boundaries. But again, it is difficult to pin down precise meanings, and horoi out of social context can only be "infelicitous" communication.
Hitchener correlates the Albertini tablets, a 5th Century AD record of transactions on the buy-back of the rights to cultivate land plots, with surveys done in the Kasserine area of the Roman period landscape. According to the tablets, those owners who could not cultivate the land were obligated to sell to those who could or would. The survey showed that the land was organized concentrically: fundi were the largest unit, and loci and agri were smaller arboricultural units, scattered among less arable land and having more flexible terms. Hitchener suggest that a comparison between the tablets and survey demonstrates that the lex Manciana land system was a persistent and durable structure.
Small argues that Athenian cemeteries are a locus for the display of power and social establishment, and that their function in society cannot be well understood if they are "read" simply through textual evidence. Small reviews text sources on funerary practices and beliefes, including interment, games, professional mourners, special sacrifices and meals. His fieldwork is derived from two excavations in Greek standing monument cemeteries and from a survey of a Pennsylvania cemetery. Grave elaboration and regulations in Athens changed apparently every century or so. If practices in Athens map to those in Bethlehem, then they may represent an attempt to negotiate status through not only walls or markers, but also through forbidding later citizens from attaining the same ostentation as earlier citizens had already achieved. Sumptuary laws, rather than intimating the advance of democracy, may simply be the evidence for status-quo elitism.
Kosso offers an exceptionally clear explication of proof. Evidence is compiled through an accounting of how the data were gathered and a knowledge of the context in which data was gathered. He glosses the "evidentiary regression" problem in which no data can be proved because each piece of evidence relies on the (as yet unproven) piece before it. Therefore independence between texts and archaeology finds are particularly useful, and independent data collection systems, such as carbon 14 dating, are important within a field such as archaeology. Kosso defines four useful terms:
Transmission-type independenceAll solid evidential claims need epistemic independence, and it is especially good to gather transmission type and reference type independence. Such independence may or may not exist between objects and texts.
(differing transmissions; book versus tape)
Transmission- token independence
(differing sources: one book versus another book)
(differing proof with the same type of evidence: yard in Athens vs. yard in Sparta)
(differing types proving the same thing: letter and tape verifying last will)
In his article Hesse asks, can zoology adopt to post-processual theories? Historians have been interested in the relationship of animals to people, especially domestication and husbandry. Zoologists were more interested in the distribution and morphology of the animals themselves. Processualists wanted to discover the general development laws via bone scatters and surveys. Post-processualists are interested in meaning as "constructed socially and expressed materially." Hesse uses the traditional processual approach to discuss pig prohibitions and pig husbandry in Israeli and Egyptian contexts. However, he believes that there will be some benefit to understanding the issues in the perspectives of the period. In this sense, meaning is constructed in the past, and again in the present. Uncovering, recovering or reconstructing the meaning of pig raising requires cross-cultural reading of texts as well as cross-cultural reading of bones.
Finally, Wapnish asserts that in zooarchaeological endeavors, the categories
for animals need to be not only Linnean but also informed by folk categories.
Through bone study, philological analysis and records of existing technology,
Wapnish tries to determine the exact meaning of the cuneiform nahiru.
The animal was a marine animal and was hunted by the elite. But is
it a narwhale, dolphin, manatee, walrus, seal...or what? Ultimately
she favors a smaller and more easily hunted prey (dolphin rather than whale),
but what is more important, she believes, is the function that the animal
played in the culture itself. While most cultures may use morphological
features to categorize animals, we should recall that our Linnean animal
classification system was built in the 18th century for specific and historical
motivations. This system, then, is unlikely to provide the same social
function, as did the animal classification system of the nahiru hunters.
Fundamentally, naming the animal may be less important than understanding
the meaning of the animal.