Truth, Archaeology and Fiction (2)

“As time passed I learnt how to tame the creative beast and keep her more firmly under control (I’m convinced my muse is a female, because she doesn’t approve of me drinking when I’m at the keyboard). But everything I wrote was motivated by an urge to reveal to myself and my readers what it might have felt like to have been alive in a particular time in the past.”

Francis Pryor - In the Long Run

As time passes I find I am more and more interested in what we mean by the terms Truth and Fiction. Indeed, the more I think about it, the more convinced I have become that analysis won’t help me come to grips with the problem. In fact I’m becoming fairly (but only fairly) certain that our modern, western obsession with what I might call the ‘scientific’ approach has its own limitations, too. I think as a culture we place too much emphasis on analytical thought: on observation, hypothesis and test – the three classic steps of science. As an archaeologist I am, of course, thoroughly steeped in this tradition and it affects not just my professional work, but my attitude to life in general. When I was a student at Cambridge in the mid-1960s, archaeology was starting to shake-off an earlier tradition of historical- or narrative-based thought and replace it…

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