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Grand Challenges for Archaeology

  • Keith W. Kintigh (a1), Jeffrey H. Altschul (a2), Mary C. Beaudry (a3), Robert D. Drennan (a4), Ann P. Kinzig (a5), Timothy A. Kohler (a6), W. Fredrick Limp (a7), Herbert D. G. Maschner (a8), William K. Michener (a9), Timothy R. Pauketat (a10), Peter Peregrine (a11), Jeremy A. Sabloff (a12), Tony J. Wilkinson (a13), Henry T. Wright (a14) and Melinda A. Zeder (a15)...


This article represents a systematic effort to answer the question, What are archaeology’s most important scientific challenges? Starting with a crowd-sourced query directed broadly to the professional community of archaeologists, the authors augmented, prioritized, and refined the responses during a two-day workshop focused specifically on this question. The resulting 25 “grand challenges” focus on dynamic cultural processes and the operation of coupled human and natural systems. We organize these challenges into five topics: (1) emergence, communities, and complexity; (2) resilience, persistence, transformation, and collapse; (3) movement, mobility, and migration; (4) cognition, behavior, and identity; and (5) human-environment interactions. A discussion and a brief list of references accompany each question. An important goal in identifying these challenges is to inform decisions on infrastructure investments for archaeology. Our premise is that the highest priority investments should enable us to address the most important questions. Addressing many of these challenges will require both sophisticated modeling and large-scale synthetic research that are only now becoming possible. Although new archaeological fieldwork will be essential, the greatest pay off will derive from investments that provide sophisticated research access to the explosion in systematically collected archaeological data that has occurred over the last several decades.


Este artículo representa un esfuerzo sistemático para responder a la pregunta: ¿Cuáles son los retos científícos más importantes de la arqueología? A partir de una consulta masiva dirigida ampliamente a la comunidad profesional de arqueólogos, los autores aumentaron, priorizaron y refinaron las respuestas que surgieron de esta encuesta, durante un taller de dos días el cual se centro específícamente en esta cuestión. Los 25 grandes retos que emergen, se centran en los procesos culturales dinámicos y en el funcionamiento de los sistemas humanos y naturales en su conjunto. Para presentarlos aquí, organizamos estos desaflos en cinco temas: (1) surgimiento, comunidades y complejidad; (2) resiliencia, persistencia, transformatión y colapso; (3) movimiento, movilidady migratión; (4) conocimiento, comportamiento e identidad; e (5) interacciones humano-medioambiente. Cada pregunta va acompañada de una discusión y una breve lista de referencias. Un objetivo importante en la identificatión de estos retos es el de informar las decisiones sobre las inversiones en infraestructura para la arqueologia. Nuestra premisa es que las mayores inversiones prioritarias deben ser aquellas que nos permitan abordar las cuestiones mas importantes. Responder a muchos de estos desaflos requerird adoptar tanto la elaboration de modelos sofisticados, como investigaciones a gran escala sintetizadoras que apenas ahora estdn siendo posibles. Aunque sera fundamental llevar a cabo nuevos trabajos de campo arqueológicos, la mayor recompensa se derivard de las inversiones que proporcionen a las investigaciones sofisticadas acceso a la multitud de los datos arqueológicos recolectados sistemáticamente que se ha producido en las últimas décadas.



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