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Early FarmersThe View from Archaeology and Science$
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Alasdair Whittle and Penny Bickle

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265758

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265758.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 26 May 2022

Archaeological Science and the Neolithic

Archaeological Science and the Neolithic

The Power and Perils of Proxy Measures

(p.419) 21 Archaeological Science and the Neolithic
Early Farmers

Paul Halstead

British Academy

Increasingly diverse applications of ‘archaeological science’ are providing more or less direct evidence for aspects of Neolithic life that, until recently, archaeologists explored using very remote proxy measures (for example, settlement locations as evidence for land use). Nonetheless, many applications of new (and old) analytical techniques continue to conflate the variables of which they are direct measures with others for which they are more or less remote and unreliable proxies. This chapter explores examples of such proxy measures and their unstated underpinning assumptions about human cultural behaviour and, sometimes, the natural world. Closer attention to such assumptions will improve not only the reliability of applications of archaeological science to the Neolithic, but also their reach and resolution.

Keywords:   Neolithic Europe, archaeological science, proxy measures, analytical techniques

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