Levantine archaeology may be the poster child for hype but it is hardly the only sub-segment of the discipline that the disease infects. Rosemary Joyce, a University of California, Berkley, anthropologist, provides an account of “Good science, big hype, bad archaeology” on the Berkeley Blog. Here’s a sample or two,
Being an archaeologist is a funny thing, because archaeology is one of those sciences that catches the popular imagination: pyramids! tombs! mummies! treasure!
But archaeology as a science is not about discoveries. It is about knowledge: understanding the human past, the lives of men and women, the ways that societies developed, how people coped with the challenges of difficult environments and changing climates.
But all too often, this good science is then hyped as if it was totally unprecedented, surprising, supposedly shattering all our previous ideas. So good science becomes bad archaeology.
Her example is want “[o]ne government official went so far as to say . . . ‘might be the biggest archaeological discovery in the world of the twenty-first century’” This case of good science becoming bad archaeology is from