2017 | 69 | 9-31
Article title

No narrative so grand

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Archaeology deals with many narratives, on a number of different levels. The most important is that of the narrative itself: archaeologists want to tell a story. Thus we frame our arguments within a narrative structure, with a beginning and an ending; we present our evidence and our conclusions, and link them all with arguments that are intended to show how the conclusions derive from the evidence. Archaeological narratives have long been concerned chronologies: the narration of events in the order that they occurred. To some degree this narrative benefi ted from one derived from geology, which equated time and space stratigraphically. The limitations of such approaches become obvious when we want to know more than just the sequence of events within the limited contexts of an individual site, and try to extrapolate those into regional analyses or those “universal laws of human behaviour” processualists claimed it was our task to uncover. Attempts at equating time and space are hindered to the extent that things cannot be related to one another in time as they are in space. In space things can be “near” one another, and we can model proximity in GIS. But how do we compare anything that is dated to around 350 AD, ca. 4th c. BC, “late Bronze Age,” etc.? “Free text” entry of the temporal “location” of an object, site or context does not suffi ce for modelling complex semantic structures in a database. This paper explores a solution for dealing with such problems of conceptualising and modelling temporal proximity.
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