Middle Range Theory Of Taphonomy

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INTRODUCTION Originally defined by I.A. Efremov in 1940, taphonomy can be described as, “the study of the transition (in all its details) of animal remains from the biosphere into the lithosphere” (Lyman, 2010:2). In the original definition of taphonomy, only animal remains were included, while later the term evolved to include faunal, human and material remains. Zooarchaeologists, specifically, adopted the term to determine whether modified bones represented evidence of prehistoric tools (Lyman, 2010). The term “taphonomy” has transitioned away from the original meaning established by Efremov since the 1970s. Archaeologists have also adopted the term in reference to the disturbance of the archaeological record and natural modification…show more content…
The most basic interest of archaeologists is to understand past human behavior; no matter what time period they are studying. Although this is their most basic interest, it is no easy feat. Without settlements and buildings, written texts and artifacts, this could be nearly impossible, with material culture being seen as the “product of adaption with the environment, both physical and social” (Hodder & Hutson, 2003:4). This is where Middle Range theory comes in. The function of MRT (Middle Range theory) is to “reveal the mechanisms of interacting past processes by describing the diagnostic traces left behind” (Atici, 2006:29). Middle Range theory was a theory observed between empirical data and general theories, and was first developed by the sociologist R.K. Merton during the…show more content…
Ethnographic analogy is one of the most widely used tools within archaeology. Using analogy to interpret within archaeology is to assess any “belief about non-observed behavior by referring to observed behavior that is thought to be relevant” (Atici, 2006:34). These analogies can be used to interpret, compare and elaborate on hypothesis. Binford defines analogy as “the term used to designate a particular type of inferential argument” (34), and more recently it’s been defined as “prior knowledge to make projections about unknown contexts in terms of adding meaning – what we think we know or believe to be true – to interpret an unknown context” (Atici, 2006:35). Ethnoarchaeology is a more specific research area within archaeology, as compared to ethnographic analogy, with the data being used as a reference for prehistoric human behavior. Binford states that ethnoarchaeological data is crucial to understand the relationships between the dynamics of the past and their products through exposure to these products in the living system (Atici, 2006). Experimentation involves experimental research to link results of experiments within the archaeological record. Problems within archaeology are the starting point for experiments, with the results being compared to archaeological data, in order to generate

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