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Philosophy of Archaeology


Like any field of science Archaeology has it’s own set of basic assumptions. Some of these assumptions are common to all areas of science while others are more specialized. However Archaeology is an historical study and is there for highly influenced by philosophical assumptions. The Philosophical assumptions of an archeologist can affect how he sees evidence and what he sees as evidence. Because of philosophical differences among archeologists there is often disagreement about interpretation of evidence. These difference need to be considered when reading reports and other statements about archeological finds.

Archaeology an Historical Science

Since Archaeology deals with history it is by definition a historical study. This means that Archaeology requires deducing the past from the present. As a result it requires making assumptions about the past. These assumptions include assumptions about what material is the most trustworthy. This is because even chronologies from different sources do not always agree. In written material there is also the need to discern historical accounts from fiction. The assumptions made are often philosophical in nature. This problem is made worst in Archaeology and other Historical Sciences by the degree of preservation of historical evidence. The further back in time you go the less historical evidence is preserved because it deteriorates and is destroyed by man made and natural disasters. The result is that further back in time an archaeologist looks the less historical evidence remains requiring more and more assumptions to be made.

How Philosophy Affects Archaeology

Because the further back in time one tries to study the less actual data there is assumptions need to be made about the past. This is because most artifacts do not have clear labels and need to be interpreted.
Furthermore not every thing written is equally accurate or complete because some time records have been destroyed (accidentally and deliberately), altered and embellished. As a result putting together a history requires separating the good from the bad and to do this it is necessary to make assumptions about past events. The assumptions use are generally philosophic in nature even if the researcher does not realize it. For example an archaeologist who’s philosophical position does not allow for the possibly of aircraft in ancient times would tend to assume that any written references to men flying are mythological.
The point is that one's philosophical assumptions about the past greatly affect what one considers viable evidence about the past. This is not to say that incorrect philosophical assumptions will result in evidence being hidden; though it could; but that it would probably not be interpreted correctly.

Philosophy of Establishment Archaeology

Philosophy of establishment Archaeology is inherently atheistic. That is as a starting assumption any involvement of God or the supernatural is consider to be myth and not real history. Now that does not mean that all archaeologists that back up the main stream view (establishment) of history are atheists but that they ignore God in their work. This naturally results in a philosophy of Archaeology that excludes much of the Bible as a starting assumption. As result establishment archaeologists assume that the Bible is wrong unless it is confirmed by another source. Furthermore it results in a presupposition of molecules to man Evolution thus any evidence for advanced technology in the distant past is dismissed out of hand. The point is that the atheistic philosophy of Establishment Archaeology does have an affect on the conclusions made.


The Philosophical assumptions of an archeologist can affect how he sees evidence and what he sees as evidence. Because the further one looks back in time the more actual evidence has been lost assumptions need to be made about the past to do any kind of archeology. As a result Philosophical assumptions have a significant affect on the conclusions of archeologists.\

Since mainstream archeology starts with evolutionary and atheistic assumptions it is inevitable that some conclusions will contradict the Bible. So using such conclusions against the Bible results in a logical fallacy. It also results in dismissing anything potentially supernatural as myth such that a real supernatural event in the past would be dismissed on purely philosophical grounds even if it is the best explanation for the evidence.

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