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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Use of Phenomenology in Sensorial and Experiential Archaeology

  • Author(s): Sulzmann, Sven
  • Advisor(s): Moyes, Holley
  • Yoshimi, Jeffrey
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY-NC' version 4.0 license

In this thesis, I examine how human experience (thoughts, feelings) has been treated in archaeology and how phenomenology is traditionally employed in archaeological research. Phenomenological approaches have been heavily critiqued as lacking in rigor. Many argue that the differences between past and present human experience is too vast to allow for valid interpretations. I propose that humans in the past and present are similar enough to allow for plausible inferences. Further, I argue that phenomenological interpretations of the past are special forms of analogies, which are accepted by many within the archaeological community. To bolster these interpretations, new theories in cognitive science support the validity of phenomenological inference. Based on those insights I elaborate on methodology for constructing and evaluating phenomenological analogs in archaeological interpretation.

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