Klejn L.S. Time in archaeology (Prospect-Abstract)
By Leo S. Klejn
The book is devoted to problems that are fundamental in archaeology. The point is that time is the pivot of both history and prehistory, yet there is no time sui generis in the archaeological material. It is given us in the space but beyond time. By establishing the connection of archaeological material to history and prehistory, i. e. by interpreting, we introduce time into the archaeological material. Thus, the perception of time in archaeology comes about as the result of a researcher's activity. It is this activity that comprises a considerable part of an archaeologist's work. Strange as it may seem, there is as yet no book devoted to this theme in the entirety of archaeological literature (there are only books in natural scientific methods and the technique of dating). However, The problem was lately discussed among archaeological theorists, when, in the late XX century, in the international congress of archaeologists (Delhi, India, December 1994) a special section was organized for this theme.
This book consists of three parts. In the first one, philosophical concepts are considered – the concepts by which people of various epochs have conceived time. Archaeology has to do with early epochs, but an archaeologist lives in the present, so he is not immediately aware of previous concepts of time. Since however the collective conscience possesses a historical memory, many old concepts of time have survived, and it is interesting how these different temporal strata of conceiving the time are manifested in archaeology. Ideas of primordial presentism, cyclical time, denominative time as well as absolute, vector etc. are considered.
The second part of the book is devoted to periodization problems. Periodization is akin to classification, but unfolded in time. The whole systematics of archaeology is built upon a scale of periodization. Initially it was the Three Ages system (Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages), but this has been much developed, and now has many subdivisions. Currently both in the West and in Russia many its details are being called into question, as well as its criteria and even its relevance. It has been suggested that this technological model should be replaced by a historic-sociological model. In the book the argument against this exchange is made.
The third part of the book is devoted to concepts and methods of chronology – stratigraphic, typological, combinatorial etc. Here the opposition of absolute and relative time is considered. It has hitherto not been made explicit that the distinction between absolute and relative chronology that is accepted in archaeology does not coincide the original relation of these concepts in philosophy and physics and is itself in need of correction. Contrary to wide-spread belief, archaeology does not possess its own means for establishing an absolute chronology (allowing for unproblematic dating to this or that century B.C.). All its methods can establish, immediately, only relative time – permitting the inference that an event (or monument) is earlier or later than another. However, its business is also to convert relative dates into absolute dates. If to discover what ideas lie in the basis of archaeology's methods (mostly not archaeological by the origins), what is their structure, and to group them anew on the basis of these ideas, the clear prospect of working out new methods of dating will appear.
In the book determinations of many basic concepts of archaeology (of its chronological aspect) are given. Its length is ca. 400 pages including indices. The book is aimed at archaeologists and at all who are interested in the problems of time in geology, palaeontology, history and philosophy.
Part one. Ideas of time and archaeology
Chapter I. The setting of the problem
Chapter II. Development of notions of time
Chapter III. Time for an archaeologist
Part two. Archaeological periodization: approaches and criteria
Chapter I. The basis of periodization
Chapter II. Problems of periodization
Chapter III. The choice of criterion
Part three. Archaeologiocal chronology: concepts and methods
Chapter 1. The Basis of archaeological chronology
Chapter 2. Methods of diachronization
Chapter III. Methods of synchronization
Chapter IV. Building the systems