Functionalism, Systems Thought In Archaeology, And The Classic Maya Collapse

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Functionalism, Systems Thought in Archaeology, and The Classic Maya Collapse H500 December 11, 2006 Abstract Functionalism and systems thought are two very important schools of thought for anthropology and archaeology, respectively. Systems thought, practiced by some archaeologist under the movement of New Archaeology, has much in common with functionalism. Below I address both functionalism and systems and also how systemic approach has bettered our understanding of the Classic Maya and the collapse. Functionalism, Systems Thought In Archaeology, and The Classic Maya Collapse The Emergence of Two Theories Functionalism and systems thought in archaeology have a series of relationships and commonalities, the first of which can be seen in the rise of the two theories. Both schools of functionalism developing in the early 20th century, which I discuss below, called for a more scientific anthropology grounded in theoretical approaches. Functionalist believed that anthropology should not be historical and was a new way of looking at culture compared to earlier evolutionary and diffusion models (Langness 2005:91). Just compiling data was not nearly enough; hypotheses must be developed and tested. To understand cultures and compare them they must first be understood in their own context and the study should be exhaustive, considering all parts of the whole and the functions they serve the whole. A similar rethinking occurred within archaeology later in the century under the title New Archaeology. Discontent with the situation in archaeology led some members of the field to redirect the movement of archaeology. Archaeology, to be a science, needed to explain rather than just describe. Underlying processes should be understood and long term changes should be considered. New Archaeologists were trying to separate themselves from culture
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