The degree to which they were able to do this depended on the number and severity of their external or internal contradictions. External contradictions would include not enough resources to fully develop new technologies and internal contradictions would include a powerful priesthood resistant to change. Because development occurs as a process influenced by all these factors, each society develops in its own unique way – perhaps getting advanced ideas from one culture and then able to leap ahead because of decreased levels of contradictions. By using the concept of cultural history, Childe was able to open up a new means of approaching archaeology that is not complete but offers a starting point for investigations to follow.Because it is only through the material remains discovered that some peoples and cultures are now known to have existed, we can only understand these societies by comparing what has been left behind with other cultures that we have more knowledge about. This may or may not have any real meaning to the original culture (Johnson, 2007). For this reason, some have argued against the use of cultural history as a means of understanding finds. “Historians who studied ancient Greece, Rome or the Bible could set out to locate physical traces on the ground of events and civilizations described in literature; this possibility was simply not available to other historians, natural scientists or collectors who tried to make sense of artifacts or graves surviving from times before the earliest surviving written records in other areas, for example, pre-Roman Britain” (Greene, 5). As Trigger (1989) explains, there is no such thing as objective knowledge and therefore no such thing as an absolute truth. We can interpret the findings in many different ways, all of which may contain some truth relating to the original society, but perhaps none of which offers any accuracy. Yet culture history can provide some accuracy as it is constrained by the artifacts found and the necessities common to all human life.
Binford Lewis. (1983). In Pursuit of the Past. London: Thames and Hudson.
Faulkner Neil. (2009). “Childe fifty years on.” Current Archaeology.
Greene, Kevin. (2002). Archaeology: An Introduction. (Fourth Edition).
Johnson, Matthew. (2007). Archaeological Theory: An Introduction. Oxford:Blackwell.
Trigger B. (1989). A History of Archaeological Thought, Cambridge:CUP
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