The Question...ID: 526
posted: 18 Nov 2001
updated: 02 Apr 2002
In both your books and your lectures, you appear to critique archaeologists'' names for the Stone Age, Bronze Age and others. You say that these names define the people of these times by what they produced. However, these names derive from the fact that archaeologists rely on physical artifacts to classify periods of time. Saying "stone age," simply means, "this is the age during which all the stone tools we''ve found were made," not, "these people are defined by their use of stone." Although I understand the sentiment behind it, I think that particular objection is unjustified. There are more apt places to find examples of our culture''s "product focus."
To define the Stone Age as "the age during which all the stone tools we've found were made" is obviously innaccurate, since stone tools continued to be made long after "The Stone Age." There are probably few stonetool making peoples extant today, but there were thousands of them just 500 years ago. From an archaeological point of view, a more accurate definition would be "the age during which stone tool-making techniques developed." I don't "object" to the Stone Age label. I merely observe that it reflects our cultural bent to see people as defined by the products they make--and archaeologists are not exempt from that bent.
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