I. Prehistoric Times > A. Introduction > 2. The Study of Prehistory > g. Theoretical Approaches to Prehistory
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  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
 
 
g. Theoretical Approaches to Prehistory
 
Archaeologists study human prehistory within broad theoretical frameworks. Such theoretical approaches are a means for looking beyond the facts and material objects from archaeological sites for explanations of cultural developments and changes that took place during the remote past.  1
Two broad theoretical approaches dominate interpretative thinking:  2
 
1. Culture History
 
Culture-historical approaches are based on systematic descriptions of sites, artifacts, and entire cultural sequences. Culture history is based on studies of archaeological context in time and space. Such studies are the backbone of all archaeological research and provide us with the chronology of human prehistory. They also give us data on the broad distributions of human cultures through the Old and the New World over more than 2.5 million years. No more sophisticated theoretical approaches can exist without this culture-historical background.  3
 
 
 
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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