You will prepare and submit a term paper on Semiotics and Archeology. Your paper should be a minimum of 1500 words in length. The study of semiotics can, therefore, be applied in many contexts, one of which being in archeology. Archeology can be understood to be a science that carries out attempts to understand the past through the use of the physical evidence that is available. This evidence may include written material as well as other symbolic artifacts.
According to Preucel (8), the field of semiotics has undergone a transformation in the recent past. This transformation means that semiotics has changed its traditional focus which was studying sign systems and classifying the signs to include the study of how these signs are produced and their meanings as they occur in a social context. The basic premise in semiotics is, therefore, that meaning can only be derived from the social context in which the symbols or interactions are occurring. This has become important in the application of semiotics to archeology as the different signs or symbols that are to be found within the archeological exploration and process. The knowledge of symbols, signs, codes, and cons can, therefore, be applied in archeology. The understanding of the arrangement or organization if the material objects that are found into codes to give them meaning are, therefore, an important process. It is important to realize that unlike in the linguistic sentences the interpretation of material culture is a more complex process. As such, there is a need for archeologists to come up with a system that effectively structures and interprets the different aspects of material culture. This marks an important aspect of the relationship between semiotics and archeology.
The relationship between semiotics and archeology is said to have begun in the 1960s when the linguistic model was first applied to studying archeological data. This was however only applied to the study of Paleolithic and historical archeology and was therefore limited in its scope and area of study. The introduction of a theoretical framework for the combination of linguistic structuralism and processual archeology by Ian Hodder, however, marked the beginning of more formal and reliable use of semiotics in linguistic interpretation. The importance of semiotics in the study of archeology was emphasized by the fact that it is impossible for the material culture to produce meaning without the consideration of the context of this culture.