Experimental archaeology is a sub-field of archaeological research that uses different methods, techniques, analyses, and approaches within the context of a controllable imitative experiment. The goal is to replicate past phenomena – including objects, behaviors, processes, and even systems – to generate and test hypotheses about analogies used for archaeological interpretation. Experimental archaeology is typically undertaken by people looking for data from which to infer interpretations or by those looking to understand processes and/or test hypotheses about the past. This lecture will present different experiments undertaken by archaeologists and explore how experimentation in archaeology is conceptualized and performed. It will discuss the nature of the results produced by experimental archaeology and will emphasize the role experimentation can play in helping us understand the context of past activities.
Guest: James R. Mathieu James Mathieu (PhD, Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania) is a specialist in complex societies, spatial analysis, castle studies, and experimental archaeology. He served as the head of collections, publications, and digital media at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology for many years and is currently a consulting scholar at the same museum.