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2010 Rhind Lecture 4: “A Road Map” by Professor Martin Carver

Fourth 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 4
If survey, excavation, building recording – all brands of field archaeology – are at the same time scientific, creative and socially embedded, how can a theory of practice integrate and reconcile them? In each case the task is to match what has survived, and our powers of detection, to the desires of research and the demands of ethical factors: what we want to know, out of what we can know, out of what we are permitted to seek. The solution presented here – value-led archaeology –champions a staged itinerary gated by evaluation and design. It is compared with other procedures in operation in France, USA and England, showing that the key variable in archaeological quality is not technique, but purpose. I will also attempt to convince the audience that my approach can accommodate any theory and any political system, provided we are sufficiently vocal about what we value.

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