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Getting Involved: Archaeology Now

By Barrie Andrian
Trial and error

Image of man using ember and tinder to create a flame
Firemaking tools - a blend of the old and new ©
The value of experimental archaeology in site interpretation and furthering our understanding of past cultures is recognised worldwide. By its very nature it creates a link between archaeological discovery and archaeological theory. It allows us to test theories by physical or simulated trial and error, compare the results and modify as required.

Experimental archaeology provides insight into methods of ancient manufacture and technology, and the resources and workforce required. It also provides an enormous sense of satisfaction when the experiments are successful.

It cannot tell us about rituals or social hierarchy, but it can bring us closer to understanding what it might have been like to live in a particular time and place. As a result, experimental archaeology also plays an important role in public archaeology and lifelong learning, and this role will expand with more research and international collaboration.

About the author

Barrie Andrian is a professional underwater archaeologist and Managing Director of the Scottish Crannog Centre where she co-directed the first-ever timber-piled crannog reconstruction. Barrie co-founded the Scottish Trust for Underwater Archaeology and is a director of the Scottish Trust for Underwater Archaeology. Between 1978 and 1987 she was involved with many shipwreck archaeological projects including the Mary Rose and HMS Invincible off the south coast of England.

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Published: 2005-06-21



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