5. Comparing Archaeology Across Regions and Periods
How can we compare the results of regional archaeological projects? What is to gain from comparisons over large geographical distances or across periods?
Since the late 1950s and 1960s archaeologists across the world have increasingly combined the long established tradition of the excavation of sites with a range of methods and techniques to gather geological, botanical, archaeological, historical and other data on the wider region. Some survey methods and techniques have undergone significant improvement through time: others like for example OSL, metal detecting and LiDAR have had a profound impact only recently. Some regions in Europe have been the focus of archaeological research for more than half a century and for some regions researchers are in the position to write regional biographies with great time depth and high chronological and geographical resolution. Significant gaps on settlement history have been filled and simple developmental models have been replaced by highly detailed and multi-dimensional descriptions and explanations of regional processes of expansion, contraction and structural change. Most researchers however believe that “their region” is special in one way or another. An urgent need is felt to compare the results of long-term regional projects in larger geographical contexts like the Mediterranean or the Middle East. We envisage the EEA meeting at Maastricht as a laboratory for comparing the results of regional archaeological projects across Eurasia. Moreover, comparative studies about interregional integration and dynamics from regions beyond Europe, are also welcome in order to cope better with the entanglement of different geographical scales. What research questions should guide a comparison? How do we compare across regions and periods which not only differ significantly environmentally, but also what regards the survival of archaeological remains and their research history? How can multi-scalar approaches contribute to our knowledge and understanding of the movement of people, materials and ideas?