Document Type : Review Article
University of Naples "L'Orientale"
University of Naples "L'Orientale", Asia, Africa, and Mediterraneum
This paper intends to bring, once again, to the attention of those who study the Achaemenid and pre-Achaemenid period on the Iranian plateau, the difficulties of method and merit that are encountered in dealing with, and studying objects of material and figurative culture. This especially if those objects do not come from reliable archaeological contexts or from those which, nonetheless, for various reasons have not been sufficiently documented.
An important concept in archaeology and one that is not given a lot of public attention until things go awry, is that of the “context”. Contexts to an archaeologist, mean the place where an artifact is found. Not just the place, but the soil, the site type, the layer the artifact came from, and what else was in that layer. The importance of where an artifact is found is ample. A site, properly excavated, tells you about the people who lived there, what they ate, what they believed, and how they organized their social setting. The whole of our human past, particularly prehistoric, but historic periods too, is tied up in the archaeological remnants, and it is only by considering the whole entirety of an archaeological site that we can even begin to understand what our ancestors were about. Take an artifact out of its context and you reduce that artifact to no more than pretty. The information about its maker is gone.