History of Experimental Archaeology
Conference at Lejre (DK)
12 April | 14 April - 2013

Replicative experiment – in which researchers attempt to replicate archaeological artefacts and/or processes to test certain hypotheses or discover information about those artefacts and/or processes – have been a key part of archaeological research since the beginnings of the discipline. However, experiments were (and are) often embedded in wider research, conducted in isolation or not published at all.

This has had a negative affect on experimental archaeology today in several ways. Research is often conducted without reference to, or knowledge of, past experiments. This leads to a constant ‘reinvention’ of the wheel, but without progress or development of knowledge. This is especially true when previous experiments have been conducted by people from other geographical regions or archaeological disciplines. Also, the lack of an established history helps to perpetuate the view that experimental archaeology is a fringe method, both by archaeologists generally and those that practice the method.