Natural Science to National Identity: all you can treat in Archaeology

Ms Aoi L. Hosoya (PhD student, Archaeology, Fitzwilliam College)

Saturday, 24 May, 1997; 7:00-9:00 pm

Seminar room, Darwin College

What is your image of 'Archaeology'? Treasure-hunting? Adventure? Impractical antiquary?
Of course, as all of us know, real archaeology is not like "Indiana Jones". But it is as exciting as the nail-biting adventure in another way. Since the objective of archaeology is to reconstruct human culture in the past, all kinds of material remnants from human life, from dust on floors to a somebody's diary, become the data. Naturally the analysis methods have to be diverse, covering natural sciences to arts, then we archaeologists need to develop theories to synthesise all those diversity. Isn't it one big academic adventure in quest of genuine 'interdisciplinary research', which is also the objective of Toiro-kai? Let's discuss it mainly on my own subject 'archaeobotany', which is an example of the diversity of archaeological data and the interpretation.
Is archaeology impractical? It would be so nice if it were, but actually not. Since 'history' is a fundamental factor to construct national identity, all politics, social systems and so on in each nation cannot help being indispensable factors to form the way of archaeological research, and vice versa. Through an example of Japanese "Cultural Property Protection" system, I would like to discuss this aspect of archaeology as well, and the problem of Japanese people's sense of their 'origin' and 'unity'.

Reading for interested;
Leo Aoi Hosoya
"Archaeology of No Theory -How to understand Japanese archaeology?" (Now on Internet http://www.okayama-u.ac.jp/user/le/arch/news/whatnew/hosoyae.html
Eiji Oguma "The Myth of the Homogeneous Nation [in Japanese]" [Tan-itsu Minzoku Sinwa no Kigen] (1995 Shin-Yo Sha)