Introduction to Ancient History Research

Mikael Kindborg, March 16, 2020

This article has also been published on Facebook in the group Forbidden Archaeology and other Mysteries.

I work together with Gösta Lindwall on a project where we examine ancient mysteries using visualizations and illustrations, and use a curiosity-based approach.

My background is research in Computer Science and Visual Languages. When doing computer science research, it is relatively straightforward (but not at all trivial) to do testing and analyze the results.

I have also done several studies of computer use in schools and workplaces, using ethnographical methods. These have been mainly descriptive studies, based on participatory observation. Such studies are not necessarily controversial, but can still give rise to conflicting interpretations.

I find historical research very different in that we don’t have much evidence available. When studying computer users, the observer filters what she sees and hears though her current understanding. But there is something there to observe, you can use video recordings, interviews etc. But we cannot interview or record what people did who lived 12000 years ago.

This is also what makes historical research so fascinating. We have to make sense of available findings and be prepared to re-evaluate our understanding of available knowledge.

I find the kind of work Michael Cremo is doing very interesting and authentic. He shows how limiting it can be to be locked into a dominant consensus. His examples of how evidence is ignored and hidden away, show that the knowledge filter is real.

Visualization of the research process in historical sciences

Visualization of the research process in historical sciences

When certain assumptions become the norm, they form the dominant paradigm used by the scientific community. Researchers use the historical framework to “fit in” new findings, in order to strengthen the framework.

The question is how we can break up the consensus culture that enforces the established narrative?

Researchers have to be more accepting and curious when it comes to alternative interpretations and findings that present anomalies or contradicts existing theories. Likely, historical sciences have to accept to live with multiple narratives of our history, which at times are contradictory.

In the work we do, Gösta often illustrates multiple interpretations of an archaeological artifact or historical event. While such illustrations can certainly be biased, they open up the narrative and stimulate curiosity.

To me, being a researcher is to be curious. Wanting to know. If the findings clash with my beliefs, then I have to deal with that, and not deny, hide or destroy evidence.

Pitfalls in the historical research process

Pitfalls in the historical research process

In the above graphical representation of the process of historical/archeological research, some the potential pitfalls associated with the process is highlighted.

Having a curious mindset, not jumping to premature conclusions and reject what challenges us, is something that can be beneficial for us also in our daily lives.

The search goes on.

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