Archaeology Quote by Laurent Olivier

January 13, 2012

“We are ourselves producers of archaeological materials, and when we practise the discipline, we do little more than add a new archaeological episode to the existence of places and things that have often already known a long series of functions and uses.  In other words, we use new strata of information and interpretation to object themselves characterised by considerable stratifications of meaning over time.”

— Laurent Olivier 2001, p. 180

The continuity and ongoing build-up of the life history of a site well into the present is well expressed by this quote from Olivier. We as archaeologists only add another layer of interpretation and meaning to the archaeological record through our work. Thus, it is important to remember that archaeology is not just the study of the past, rather it is the study of everything that exists and has come before, including previous assumptions and conclusions made by archaeologists before. People produce archaeological materials, yet archaeologists are people too, so it suffices to say that archaeology is the study of what we ourselves have brought into effect both metaphorically and realistically. There is no confusion, then, about why all archaeology fits into the remit of being contemporary, and everything in history is part of the contemporary past (or at least linked to it).

Reference: Olivier, L. (trans V. Grieshaber) 2001. The Archaeology of the Contemporary Past. Pp. 175- 188. In Buchli, V. and G. Lucas (eds) Archaeologies of the Contemporary Past. London: Routledge


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