The Classical Archaeology of Greece: Experiences of the Discipline (Experiences of Archaeology)

The Classical Archaeology of Greece: Experiences of the Discipline (Experiences of Archaeology)

Michael Shanks

Language: English

Pages: 216

ISBN: 0415172055

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Archaeologists do not discover the past but take the fragmentary remains which they recover and make something of them. Archaeology is a process of detection and supposition; this is what makes it so fascinating. However, the interpretations of archaeologists differ and change over time. They depend upon the amount of evidence available, the ideas and preconceptions of the archaeologist and their interests and aims.
Michael Shanks's enlivening work is a guide to the discipline of classical archaeology and its objects. It assesses archaeology as a means of reconstructing ancient Greek society using the latest approaches of social archaeology. In addition, The Classical Archaeology of Greece outlines the history of the discipline and discusses why Classical Greece continues to fascinate us and why it has had such an impact on European civilization and identity.

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(1978), Michael Greenhalgh defines Classicism in art as an approach to various media founded on the imitation of antiquity, and on the assumption of a set of values attributed to antiquity. Francis Haskell and Nicholas Penny have documented the importance of copies and collections of plaster casts in this tradition. For many centuries it was accepted by everyone with a claim to taste that the heights of artistic achievement had been reached in a limited number of antique sculptures. Many were

modern Greece was, in Byron’s words, a ‘sad relic of departed worth’. The romantic love of ruins converts this into an image of a fallen Hellas, the aboriginal embodiment of a European ideal fallen to ruin and the evil corruption of anti-Europe, the Turk. This romantic ruin (of European culture) is suitably timeless, because the opposition is between eternity and history, not two phases of history. Figure 3.15a Comte de Choiseul-Gouffier. Voyage Pittoresque de la Grèce. Paris 1782. Frontispiece

the American School of Classical studies at Athens, lists pots with descriptions and comparanda—items found elsewhere which look similar; implications for chronology and classification are considered. In the background to these sorts of publications is an ideal of the complete text, the last word (even if only for a moment), the definitive classification to serve as reference point even when superseded by new finds which blur the precision. Shorter articles, usually in periodicals, may debate

processes—seeing through the mass of detail to what is really going on. Morris makes a case for being interested in the structure of the archaeological record, as opposed to its empirical content. But the loss of detail is the price of methodological rigour. Neither Morgan and Whitelaw nor Whitley give account of what to many must be the most distinctive aspect of the design of the pottery they study—it is decorated with geometric figures. Morris gives no account of why people in Attika actually

Discourse analysis in archaeology: Clarke, David. ‘Archaeology: the loss of innocence’, Antiquity 47 (1973): 6–18. Hodder, lan. ‘Writing archaeology: site reports in context’, Antiquity 62 (1989): 268–74. Tilley, Christopher. ‘Discourse and power: the genre of the Cambridge inaugural lecture’, in Domination and Resistance, ed. Daniel Miller, Michael Rowlands and Christopher Tilley. London: Unwin Hyman, 1989. Tilley, Christopher. ‘On modernity and archaeological discourse’, in Archaeology after

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