'Empiricism' can mean many things; I discuss it here as the belief that the data speak for themselves, without the need for intervening theory. Empiricism in this sense would be considered by most to be simply naïve, but I argue that it remains one of the most widespread implicit theoretical positions in archaeology as a whole. This article examines the intellectual origins and cultural context of empiricism, and asks why it endures. I discuss two case studies: the archaeology of castles; and the origins of the medieval village. I argue that empiricism should be understood rather than simply dismissed, and propose some therapeutic practices for archaeological interpretation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)