An interesting post by Emily Jackson at http://ejarchaeology.wordpress.com/?blogsub=confirming#subscribe-blog on why are archaeologists afraid to use their imaginations?
I wish more archaeologists would read Collingwood and Wheeler. Both had a lot to say about the use of imagination, in a recursive relationship with evidence. Archaeology without imagination is just another form of stamp collecting or admiration of antiques. To be fair, the post-processualists in academia did advocate using the imagination – but to my mind, in a way too removed from evidence and in a too post-modern framework. Many field professionals also try to get beyond the excavation report to something more meaningful. But too many archaeologists are still hopelessly in love with the artefacts and sites in and of themselves. I say this as a former flint tool specialist who can still get misty-eyed over a Neolithic flint arrowhead!
The best archaeology fires the imagination through help people make contact across the ages with previous generations. The physical remains of the past are not only categories and types, they are the witness to past lives. This lives can only live again if we try to imagine lived experiences in the past. Remains divorced from people are so much clutter to be hidden away unused in store. Real archaeology should fire up the child inside us whose eyes go wide when we handle a Roman leather shoe, not because it is rare or Roman, but because it was once on a real person’s foot – a 2,000 year old person.