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2010 Rhind Lecture 3: “Out on the street” by Professor Martin Carver

Third of the 2010 Rhind Lectures by Professor Martin Carver entitled “Design versus Dogma: reflections on field archaeology”.

Design vs Dogma: Reflections on Field Archaeology

The Rhind Lectures presented by Professor Martin Carver, University of York
Friday 23rd April to Sunday 25th April 2010

Lecture 3
Archaeology involves land and citizens, and if only for that reason is a socially embedded subject. Land is the focus of multiple interests and the investigation of land changes its character and affects social allegiance. Citizens have expectations where they don’t have rights, so are participants in what happen to their past. Field archaeology is therefore not an isolated research activity, a lonely dialogue between a theorist and a clod of earth; it is done in public: a publically sanctioned reduction of a part of a common resource in exchange for accurately anticipated scientific benefits. For this reason the correct intellectual location for archaeological investigation is within a social contract. This is also the root cause of our need for multiple modes of communication, in publication, exhibition and site presentation.

The Lectures
The purposes of archaeological investigation in the field, its methods and the circumstances in which it is deployed, have diversified radically in recent years. Half a century has passed since Mortimer Wheeler gave his Rhind Lectures on ‘Archaeology from the Earth,’ so it seems a good moment to reflect on what the international academy, the profession, government and society want from archaeological fieldwork, and how their diverse agendas might be addressed to the mutual benefit of all.

The Lecturer
Martin Carver is emeritus professor of archaeology at the University of York, Editor of Antiquity and the author of Archaeological Investigation (Routledge, 2009). He has undertaken or advised on field projects in England, Scotland, Sweden, France, Italy and Algeria, including numerous commercial projects and major research campaigns at Sutton Hoo (Suffolk) and Portmahomack (Easter Ross).

The 2010 Rhind Lectures were presented in the Royal Society of Edinburgh Wolfson Lecture Theatreand recorded by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland using Camtasia software, and produced as MP4 files available to view and download from Screencast