What Works and What Doesn’t
Prudence Rice provides a concise historical and theoretical introduction to type-variety and discusses important aspects of classification in general. She highlights the difference between a positivist view of classification, in which types are defined in any number of ways depending on the questions one is asking, and what Hill and Evans (1972) have characterized as an empirical view in which types are seen to be inherently meaningful (for example, as expressions of individual and group values and norms, as in the work of Gifford and others). She links the empirical view to the “revisionist history” of Gifford’s (1976: 6) claim that type-variety is conceptually based on whole vessels and argues that type-variety was in fact intended to help manage large amounts of sherds, a task to which it is well suited.
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