Pushing back the frontiers or still running around the same circles? 'Interpretative archaeoastronomy' thirty years on
This personal perspective on the development of archaeoastronomy over the last thirty years focuses on interpretative and methodological issues, picking up for example from the debate between Schaefer and Aveni at Oxford VII. How far we have actually progressed in the last three decades? Are we at last starting to achieve the correct fusion between the social science questions that our discipline addresses and the "hard science" methods that are often involved in tackling them? In this paper I argue that the need for our hypotheses to be solidly grounded in social theory, which has rightly been recognised by most archaeoastronomers in recent years, is not an excuse for avoiding the need to be scientifically rigorous in assessing them against the actual evidence. I conclude that identifying robust methodologies for weighing together the different types of data with which the cultural astronomer is faced in different sitations, so as to infer the "best" interpretation, remains at once the most challenging and the most pressing issue facing our "interdiscipline" in the future.