Interpretative methods

Essay by emmadonnellanUniversity, Bachelor's November 2014

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Interpretative Methodologies

Jane Dickins and Ronan O'Flaherty use different methodologies to learn about the past. Jane Dickins talks about ethnography which is the descriptive documentation and analysis of a contemporary culture. O'Flaherty discusses experimental archaeology which is a branch of

archaeological investigation in which carefully controlled experiments are undertaken in order to provide data and insights that aid in the interpretation of the archaeological record. Dickins discusses what constitutes the ritual behaviour of Bronze Age axes and Central Australian tjurunga.

O'Flaherty constructs a replica of the Early Bronze Age halberd and uses it on 20 sheep skulls.

Jane Dickins talks about the use of ethnography which is the central interpretative methodology in this paper. The strength of this ethnographic method is that it "presents the possibility of varied and heterogeneous reasons or causes for a practice" (Dickins, 1996), for example the possibility that a Bronze Age person would deposit an axe in bog/wet land as part of an offering or to obtain a higher status. In this paper Dickins aims to analyze what constitutes the ritual behaviour of the Central Australian tjurunga and the Bronze Age axes. However, there are many flaws to this ethnographical analogy of the past. The weaknesses to this method is that the documentation about the contemporary culture is constructed on the basis of cross-cultural generalization without any note of the various different social backgrounds and beliefs that the people had that made them (Dickins, 1996). Although little records of the finds of axes have been kept as most were found by accident, the ethnographic documentation that has been recorded suits Dickins aim as the record of Irish axes and where they were found provides an answer to the aim of the paper. A hoard of 11 axes were found at Co. Kerry lying in...