Abstraction in Archaeological Stratigraphy: a Pyrenean Lineage of Innovation (late 19th-early 21th century)

In Sophie de Beaune, Alessandro Guidi, Oscar Moro Abadía & Massimo Tarantini (eds.), New Advances in the History of Archaeology. Oxford: Archaeopress. pp. 78-92 (2021)
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Methodological innovations have a special status in disciplinary histories, because they can be widely adopted and anonymised. In the 1950s, this occurred to Georges Laplace’s innovative use of 3-dimensional metric Cartesian coordinate system to record the positions of archaeological objects. This paper proposes a conceptual and social history of this process, with a focus on its spatial context, the Pyrenean region (Spain, Basque Country, and France). Main results of this research based on archives, publications, and bibliometric data, include: 1) a critical discussion of the notions concerning authorship of such methodological innovations; 2) a presentation of the lesser-known aspects of Laplace’s method, showing its contribution to the abstraction and formalisation of archaeological observations and data recording; and 3) the identification of an international Pyrenean intellectual lineage of innovation regarding stratigraphy and excavation methods, from the late 19th century to the early 21th century.



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Sébastien Plutniak
École Française De Rome

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