The Scientific Method in Palaeoarchaeology




Ziolkoski, James

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Palaeolithic archaeology is an important field for understanding our species’ past, however, its sparse and often incomplete data makes it difficult to actually study many of the questions we want to ask. To assess the impact of this on the field, this study identified the prevalence of explicit hypotheses in palaeoarchaeological journal articles from 2017-2021. 144 articles were found from four journals (Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, Nature, Scientific Reports, and Journal of Archaeological Science); to date, 92 have been coded for the presence or absence of a “big” hypothesis, a “major” hypothesis, and a “test” hypothesis. Overall, these preliminary results show a lack of clear, well-defined hypotheses in many articles, with JAMT having the most “big” hypotheses, and Scientific Reports having the most “major” and “test” hypotheses. Currently, there do not appear to be any obvious trends over time for the presence or absence of a hypothesis. These results have implications for future approaches to the study and reporting of palaeolithic archaeology.



palaeoanthropology, hypothesis, scientific method, Palaeolithic archaeology