14 April, 2021

Who Shot British Prehistory in the Head?

If Academic Archaeology has become a bastion of science denial, who is to blame?

I realised British Archaeology was unwell, when I attended TAG 90, where the psychosis was already becoming evident. The Theoretical Archaeology Group, ;[or theoretical archaeologist group as I would characterise a group of academics temperamentally unsuited to practice archaeology, and for whom knowledge is not constrained by evidence or the English Language]; was a stepping stone for many who have subsequently helped fabricate the mindless melange of the New Post-rational Archaeology.

When, in 2006, I started my Ph.D. at Newcastle, a University so awful that even the staff had walked out, a small detail curiously omitted from their website, I had little idea how prevalent Science Denial had become. Not only was my engineering science of no interest, I was told to write about how buildings were perceived; in the Iron Age. While being ejected from a building bequeathed to the University by one of most region’s most famous engineering families, I had for a fleeting moment imagined that this bottom feeder of the academic system was just a venally corrupt nadir of mediocracy; but no, it's about par for the course.

Archaeology is an easy subject to dumb down, helping the University achieve the expected return on it’s property portfolio. Students are churned in their hundreds to find the next generation of credulous youth to maintain the tradition of copying out other peoples work in your best handwriting to obtain "research" funding.

What you learn at University is how to be a lecturer.  As a result, the standards in archaeology, as it descends further into mere infotainment, are scandalously poor on many levels, with publicly funded institutions routinely promoting science denial, myth and faith based archaeology.

For me, an essential prerequisite of a Theory is a dataset; but, given their monopoly, many academics have dispensed with the need for evidence and even the constrains of the English Language to revel in tautological self-indulgence and linguistic prestidigitation designed to conceal the nature of their conceits from those students & colleagues easily intimidated by a few polysyllables.

Let's Blame the BBC

However, I finally realised British academic archaeology was brain dead, when I chanced upon A History of Ancient Britain Series 1 Episode 3 Age of Cosmology. Even the title only makes sense if we completely redefine the Words "History" and "Cosmology" to mean the exact opposite of what they used to mean.

This is knowledge that is neither based on, or limited by, fact or meaningful language.  So I leave you in the capable hands of embryonic national treasure Dr Neil Oliver, as he and the BBC redefine the concepts of History, Cosmology, The Neolithic Revolution and intelligent thought, all in about 60 seconds.