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Processual archaeology

Processual archaeology (formerly the New Archaeology) is a form of archaeological theory that had its genesis in 1958 with the work of Gordon Willey and Philip Phillips, Method and Theory in American Archeology, in which the pair stated that "American archaeology is anthropology or it is nothing" (Willey and Phillips, 1958:2), a rephrasing of Frederic William Maitland's comment: "My own belief is that by and by anthropology will have the choice between being history and being nothing." This idea implied that the goals of archaeology were, in fact, the goals of anthropology, which were to answer questions about humans and human society. That was a critique of the former period in archaeology, the Culture-Historical phase in which archaeologists thought that any information that artifacts contained about past people and past ways of life was lost once the items became included in the archaeological record. All they felt could be done was to catalogue, describe, and create timelines based on the artifacts.

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