Thursday, January 21, 2010

An expert analyzes archeologists' incompetence

Norman Muller pointed me to this about Cupules By Robert G Bednarik. I think I can use the quote as part of "fair use".

"...In fact Clegg explicitly discounts the capacity of ‘experts’ to solve such matters, stating that ‘[t]hese respondent experts clearly knew much less than I remembered from physical geography courses in the 1950s’. I concur, and I would add that much the same applies throughout archaeology. I have noted before that ‘archaeologically untutored observers with a good understanding of natural processes, such as foresters, naturalists, indigenes leading traditional lives and peasants in remote regions’ are often much better qualified than formally educated archaeologists in discriminating between rock art and natural rock markings, or between stone artefacts and similar geofacts. It is well known that many graduate archaeologists are incapable of recognising stone tools effectively (and most archaeologists cannot fully master this in their entire lives), yet I have observed a four-year-old girl who made this distinction without hesitation, recognising stone tools on the ground up to several metres away with unfailing accuracy. I have made many such observations and have come to the conclusion that it is paradoxically a formal archaeological training that inhibits such abilities, and it is also this training that predisposes practitioners to searching for patterns and, having found them, interpreting them as signs of intentionality (Bednarik 1994a). Long-time collectors of stone tools, who typically lack formal archaeological training, are often much better judges of stone artefacts than are university-trained lithics experts and I have observed incredible discriminatory abilities in illiterate autodidacts. ..."

2 comments :

Bruce said...

Norman,

If Mr. Bedarnik ever makes it to New England he may be very interested in the cupules at the Holliston site and another grouping of them in Lakeville not far from the famed Wapanucket site. Check my photo albums for the pix or you can ask me where to look in my albums and I'll direct you there. I live in France now but I can put you in touch with people to show you these places.

Norman said...

Bruce,

Direct me to your albums. It's been a while since I was there last, but I can't recall the cupules in Lakeville.

Norman