Susanne Grunwald studied prehistoric archaeology, ancient history and medieval history in Jena and Leipzig. She received her doctorate in Leipzig in 2012 with a research history thesis on archaeological hillfort research in Saxony between 1900 and 1961. Currently, her work as researcher and editor focuses on questions concerning the reception of social science research in the various archaeologies, the global Cold War in different archaeologies, and the museum mediation of ideas on domination and power with different collaboration partners as the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz or the Germano-Romanic Commission of the German Archaeological Institute.
IS THERE A GOLD STANDARD FOR GOOD ARCHAEOLOGY? SOME REMARKS ON THIS FROM THE HISTORY AND PRESENT OF GERMAN ARCHAEOLOGY
With some examples from the history of German archaeology I would like to show how often very different opinions about the quality of scientific work coexist. There are many examples of one group of scientists criticizing one kind of research as bad or even as a “disease”, while another group values the same kind as the only correct one. In this context, the standards for good science developed for Western sciences such as physics, mathematics or medicine were received relatively late and also not continuously. This is because these sciences do not have an active audience like the various archaeologies with their museums or monuments and do not have to follow a cultural agenda of a government. Thus, for the question of what is good science, archaeology can rather be compared to Western medicine. Medicine as a natural science is also assessed differently in its research than in its practice – medicine is good if it heals or alleviates pain, and the assessment is often made differently by the patient than by the critical professional colleague. As a kind of third judge of the quality of archaeology, forms of administration with growing bureaucracy increasingly appear. There, good science is described, among other things, as plannable and calculable, which is diametrically opposed to the old idea of open-ended research -and thus poses the question of good science in a completely new way.