Concept

Archaeological science

Summary
Archaeological science, also known as archaeometry, consists of the application of scientific techniques to the analysis of archaeological materials and sites. It is related to methodologies of archaeology. Martinón-Torres and Killick distinguish ‘scientific archaeology’ (as an epistemology) from ‘archaeological science’ (the application of specific techniques to archaeological materials). Martinón-Torres and Killick claim that ‘archaeological science’ has promoted the development of high-level theory in archaeology. However, Smith rejects both concepts of archaeological science because neither emphasize falsification or a search for causality. In the United Kingdom, the Natural and Environmental Research Council provides funding for archaeometry separate from the funding provided for archaeology. Archaeological science can be divided into the following areas: physical and chemical dating methods which provide archaeologists with absolute and relative chronologies artifact studies environmental approaches which provide information on past landscapes, climates, flora, and fauna; as well as the diet, nutrition, health, and pathology of people mathematical methods for data treatment (including computer-based methods) remote-sensing and geophysical-survey techniques for buried features conservation sciences, involving the study of decay processes and the development of new methods of conservation Techniques such as lithic analysis, archaeometallurgy, paleoethnobotany, palynology and zooarchaeology also form sub-disciplines of archaeological science. Archaeological science has particular value when it can provide absolute dates for archaeological strata and artifacts.
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