Generally, our work is viewed only as digging holes in archaeological sites. However, behind and through any serious research there must exist a theoretical and methodological coherence, which is usually unnoticed by students and the general public. For that reason, we’ve decided to use this update to share our views about this topic and its implications.
The first step in any archaeological research must be based in curiosity: the formulation of questions. Although this might sound very simple, there are a couple of issues to consider 1) the questions will be guiding the whole process and therefore it must be coherent with them; 2) the questions imply theories that the researcher has to take into account in order to avoid contradictions.
The next step is the development of methodological strategies and the selection of the best suitable techniques. In other words, this step represents the practical ways through which the archaeologist will answer the initial questions. For example, if we know that domestic units of certain archaeological site measure 20 meters across but we ignore their location, we need to establish a surface methodology and technique (pedestrian survey) in accordance to that information.
Another crucial step is the analysis and classification of materials. Analysis actually starts in the field, since the way archaeologists collect artifacts will influence the sample they will classify afterward. Finally, explanation of the results needs to be related to all previous steps, since theory goes through and beyond the research and researcher. Lack of coherence invalidates our work.
Even though archaeology is one of the most exciting social sciences, we mustn’t forget the complexity of its research processes, which always need to be coherent, from the questions we formulate in the beginning to the answers we build upon all the previous investigation steps.