In this way, material culture and social paradigm were embedded in the cultural mythology of any given time in the past.
This once again emphasizes the inaccuracy of the Christian myth as the sole archaeological paradigm of research. The recognition of myth and indeed the "other" in the past provides the archaeologist with a fresh view of the past, which is much richer and wider than might previously have been recognized. Indeed, the "other" is even being recognized in archaeology today, with researchers often approaching natives for information about their history, their social structures, and their mythology.
This is a very far cry from the historical view of the native as barbaric and sub-human. According to Alcida Ramos (1994:80), it was only after a papal bull from Paul III that natives were even considered human. Christianity at the time was the only recognized myth that applied to human beings. As such, it skewed the view of natives and disregarded the potential beauty of their cultures. This can however be remedied by current research.
Ramos (1994:85) also addresses the inclusion of the native in archaeological and anthropological inquiry. According to the author, such inclusion is nonetheless still subject to a large amount of racism. The Brazilian anthropologist, for example, idealizes the "pure" Indian whose values and faithfulness to the traditional paradigms of the past remain incorruptible. This is however an ideology that is not always realistic. Furthermore, once the Indian subject proves him- or herself to be human, like the white investigator, the friendship is abandoned.
Although friendlier, this is simply another form of an "us and them" classification, in which the other is attributed with characteristics that classify them as less or more human than the white race. These Indians are then regarded as heroes and representatives of idealized values. This also is not realistic and is reminiscent of the "noble savage" designation of early American times. According to Ramos (1994:86), Indians have reacted to this in kind. They are reacting against the paternalistic role in which white researchers have place themselves. They are asserting their rights and the recognition of their true history and their true nature. This alone should further encourage the post-processualist study of archaeology and its related disciplines.
This is a lesson for archaeologists. Post-processualism teaches not only recognition, but also respect for the paradigms of the other. It seeks to understand rather than criticize or override. In Ramos, the researcher attempts to override with his or her own ideology relating to the perfect Indian. The rebellion against this proves that this is not respect. It is simply another form of prejudice.
Post-processualism in archaeology is the most useful paradigm of study, as it recognizes that many different interpretations of the past are possible. The specific differences in interpretation are not as important as recognizing the fact that they exist. This recognition needs to be integrated with interactions with people being studied. As in Ramos's example, it is important that the academic do not confuse his or her own ideologies of what the truth should be with what is actually inherent in the human being studied. It is also important to recognize that native nations in whatever country are primarily human. They are neither sub- nor superhuman.
Post-processualism is therefore a vital part of archaeological study if academic accuracy is to be achieved on a variety of levels not only for the past, but also for the present and the future. In terms of the past, the study of material culture can indicate the inner workings that influenced the artifacts. This provides a more accurate representation of how the culture of the time interacted and lived.
The present integrates deeply with the past in terms of human relationships during the study of certain cultures and historical artifacts. These need to be cultivated in terms of what is recognized by investigations of material culture. This culture can then integrate with texts such as ancient mythology and oral narrative in order to provide a paradigm of the past development of the people investigated. This can then be related to the present status of the people in question, and the values and norms that they use in order to interact with each other and with the other cultures sharing the world with them.
In terms of the future, globalization has become a fact of life. The Internet and communication technology has significantly shrunk the size of the world. This also has an effect upon archaeological investigation. Research has become both easier and more challenging via the Internet. It is easier because of information accessibility and the ability to communicate with any culture around the world. It is challenging as a result of the necessity to verify the validity of the information obtained. There is no central authority to maintain the quality of Internet information. Furthermore, cultural information obtained from the Internet also needs to be verified in order to obtain amore accurate picture.
Despite its challenges, however the Internet has significantly improved the ease of research, and particularly of post-processual investigation. With careful checking for quality, a world of research is possible that has not been so before. Furthermore, globalization has necessitated mutual respect among cultures. It is no longer possible to claim any human being as other than such. Cultural differences are merely paradigms from which could be learned. The "them" group has come much closer to the "us" group in the world of globalization.
All these issues have both facilitated and necessitated post-processual investigation. It is a recognition that all people and all cultures have an inherent beauty. Post-processualism provides a vehicle to uncover this beauty without assigning unrealistic qualities to any ethnic group. In the future, past investigations and present relationships among the cultures of the world can provide a platform for a new equality. In this paradigm, all people will recognize the beauty in the other and understand that there is in truth no other, no us, and no them. Post-processualism remedies the mistakes of the past to provide a better future in this way.
Bender, B. 1989. The Roots of Inequality. In D. Miller, M. Rowlands and C. Tilley (eds.), Domination and Resistance. London: Unwin Hyman, 83-95.
Bender, B. 1998. Stonehenge: Making Space. Oxford: Berg.
Gamble, C. 2001. Chapter 2: How Many Archaeologies Are There? In Archaeology: The Basics. London and New York: Routledge, 21-44.
Gero, J. 1994. Gender Division of Labour in the Construction of Archaeological Knowledge in the United States. In G.C. Bond and a. Gilliam (eds.), Social Construction of the Past. London and New York: Routledge, 144-153.
Hodder, I. 1998. The Past as Passion and Play: Catalhoyuk as a Site of Conflict in the Construction of Multiple Pasts. In L. Meskell (ed.), Archaeology under Fire. London: Routledge, 124-139
Hodder, I. 1991 . Reading the Past. Cambridge: University Press.
Rowlands, M. 1999. Black Identity and Sense of Past in Brazilian National Culture. In P.P.A. Funari, M. Hall and S. Jones (eds.), Historical Archaeology. Back from the Edge. London: Routledge, 328-344. DR
Tilley, C. 1995 . Archaeology as Socio-Political Action in the Present. In V. Pinsky and a. Wylie…