1: G. Buccellati, January 2009


     Historically, there have been two major domains within which archaeology has developed: the classical humanities on the one hand, and the social sciences on the other. They have been understood primarily as academic domains, i. e., professional spheres of influence. Thus departmental prerogatives in the allocation of university funds, school traditions in the use of jargon, the conduct of excavations, the nature of the interpretation have colored the relationship, and often the contrast, between the two.
     But upstream of academic politics, there is a fruitful correlation of two distinct modes of thought, and it is to this aspect that I wish to call attention here. To put it succinctly, the humanistic approach seeks to appropriate the ancient experience as an immediate fruition, the social sciences seek to mediate the recovery of experience by defining its distinguishing traits. In this light, it is clear that there should be a full give and take between the two. Mediation should train the immediacy of the response (so that it is not fanciful), and immediacy should serve as a diapason to calibrate the dissection (so that it is not sterile).

     More specific academic domains embody in their particular ways the prerogatives of the humanities and the social sciences. The more differentiated is the institutional structure (concretely, the larger the university), the sharper becomes the confrontation. This is reflected in the administrative articulation of the domains within specific departments that reflect conscious theoretical postures. The four that have a more direct correlation to archaeology are anthropology, architecture, linguistics and history. More recent, on the stage of departmental differentiation, is the arrival of archaeology, which has for the most part assumed the status of an interdepartmental program rather than a full-fledged department.

In an autobiographic vein, I may refer to my role in establishing, in 1973, the Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, which was successivley renamed the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology. My personal challenge, as the Institue's Director during its first ten years, was to provide an institutional home for a fruitful confrontation of these various domains understood as modes of thought. My professional connection at UCLA with both the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and the Department of History provided an institutional frame for the intellectual challenge. My initial statement of purpose in establishing the Institute expressed this very point of view, and the Institute did indeed serve faithfully and usefully this original intent.