January 3, 2012

"Facts" In Archaeology

There are few “facts” in archaeology. There are artifacts which can become “data,” but only when they are properly excavated in context, interpreted in relation to a pertinent question, and published (i.e., “given”) in full. The notion that the archaeologist is an “objective” scientist, who approaches a site with a mind that is a tabula rasa, is incredibly naïve—and dangerous. We see in the dirt only what we are sensitized to see; and unfortunately, we unwittingly destroy the rest of the evidence in getting it.

Source: William G. Dever, “Archaeology, Syro-Palestinian and Biblical,” in Anchor Bible Dictionary 1: 362-63.