Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my new book called "The Stonehenge Bluestones" -- due for publication on June 1st 2018. After that, it will be available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
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Thursday, 2 September 2010

Pseudoarchaeology at Stonehenge

Found this interesting page on Wikipedia. I think, having read it, that I would classify the Bluestone Human Transport Myth as "Nationalistic Pseudoarchaeology" since in this case an a priori conclusion was established by Thomas and Atkinson, for reasons largely to do with national pride and personal ego, since when fieldwork on a considerable scale has been undertaken with a view to corroborating or supporting the "theory". Bad -- very bad -- science, as I have pointed out over and again. Perhaps certain senior academic posts in the UK should be renamed "Chair of Prehistoric Pseudoarchaeology" and such like?

Quotes from the article:

Pseudoarchaeology (also called fantastic archaeology, cult archaeology, and cryptoarchaeology)[1] is pseudoscientific archaeology, the unscientific interpretation of material remains and sites, which may or may not represent genuine archeological data. Archaeological theories, site excavations and publications which do not conform to standard accepted archaeological methodology are generally considered to fall under the category of pseudoarchaeology.


Pseudoarchaeology can be practised intentionally or unintentionally. Archaeological frauds and hoaxes are considered intentional pseudoarchaeology. Genuine archaeological finds may be unintentionally converted to pseudoarchaeology through unscientific interpretation. (cf. Confirmation bias)

Pseudoarchaelogy is frequently motivated by nationalism or a desire to prove a particular religious (cf. Intelligent design), pseudohistorical, political, or anthropological theory. In many cases, an a priori conclusion is established, and fieldwork is undertaken explicitly to corroborate the theory in detail.

Practitioners of pseudoarchaeology often rail against academic archaeologists and established scientific methods, claiming that conventional science has overlooked critical evidence. Conspiracy theories may be invoked, in which "the Establishment" colludes in suppressing evidence...........

Countering the misleading "discoveries" of pseudoarchaeology binds academic archaeologists in a quandary, described by Cornelius Holtorf [5] as whether to strive to disprove alternative approaches in a "crusading" approach or to concentrate on better public understanding of the sciences involved; Holtorf suggested a third, relativist and contextualised [6] approach, in identifying the social and cultural needs that both scientific and alternative archaeologies address and in identifying the engagement with the material remains of the past in the present in terms of critical understanding and dialogue with "multiple pasts", such as Barbara Bender explored for Stonehenge.[7] .........

"Archaeological readings of the landscape enrich the experience of inhabiting or visiting a place," Holtorf asserted. "Those readings may well be based on science but even non-scientific research contributes to enriching our landscapes."[8] The question for opponents of folk archaeology is whether such enrichment is delusional.

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