Paper #: 2016-11-025
First Paragraph. Increasingly, interdisciplinary research teams come together to seek to establish regularities, over space and time, in the complex system that is the human phenomenon. While vocabulary and tools have changed, the questions that animate this research programme bear striking similarity with those pursued by nineteenth century intellectuals, in a quest to establish universal laws shaping human a airs. In fact, that very quest provided the impetus for the emergence of what would later become distinct disciplines in the social and historical sciences, including anthropology and sociology (see Carneiro 2003; Harris 2001; Trigger 2006).
Why, then, is this interdisciplinary research programme often met with skepticism, or even outright resistance, within anthropology?
In this chapter we provide a brief outline of developments in the history of anthropology leading to this state of a airs, in the hope of alleviating misunderstanding between those who support the interdisciplinary research programme and those who oppose it. As a practical contribution towards this end, we then provide an overview of key established resources for systematic comparative approaches to the archaeological record. We conclude by discussing challenges and opportunities in this area at the interface with recent developments in related archaeological practice.