Archaeology


From 1975 to 2001, I pursued a career in archaeology. I was drawn to archaeology because I was intrigued by ancient history and the detective-like nature of unraveling the past based on historical and scientific analyses of things, artifacts, left in the ground. For much of human history, archaeology provides the only access to knowledge of that time. But even during periods covered by written and oral histories, archaeology offers a unique perspective on the past because everyone who lived contributed to the archaeological record by creating, using and throwing away artifacts in contrast to the highly biased nature of historical documents and folklore.


The tremendous access to human history afforded by the archaeological record comes with a significant down side. It is extremely difficult to know if the stories that are told about the past based on studies of artifacts are true. Hence it is not uncommon for archaeology to lead to reconstructions of the human societies that more reflect current political, social and philosophical views than accurate depictions of the past.


Throughout my career as an archaeologist, I struggled to overcome this limitation of archaeological research. My primary interests were in developing the methods and theories needed to build accurate, scientific knowledge of human cultural development based on analyses of artifacts and other material remains. When I entered the discipline in the mid-1970s, there was great optimism that scientific knowledge of the past through archaeology could be attained by simply applying the philosophical, methodological and, occasionally, theoretical approaches of other sciences to the problem. Gradually, it became clear to me and many other archaeologists that the problem would be much harder to solve.


As my understanding improved of the nature of the problem and what it would take to do more than tell untestable stories about the past, it became clear to me that the funding available to archaeology would be woefully insufficient, and that fewer and fewer arcaheologists had the stomach for the hard, often unrewarded, work required. I was still facinated by the intellectual apsects of the problems involved, but my frustration with the practical sides of archaeology -- increasing financial and political limitations on research, lack of professional rewards, and fewer collegues with whom I could collaborate -- led me to abandone archaeology as a career in 2001. I took a job at Cleveland Clinic managing research and informatics in America's top heart center. This change has been rewarding in many ways, but I maintain an interest in archaeology, and continue to publish periodically on archaeological topics. Follow the links to the left or click on the publications link in the menu bar above to explore various aspects of my archaeological investigations.