There were three major theoretical models used by archeologists. Those models were cultural evolution, Marxism and culture history. Cultural evolution is basically a change in human culture, a change in several fields like beliefs, knowledge, languages and so on. Cultural evolution can also be described as Darwin’s evolution process which is similar to biological evolution. In the early days of anthropology, it was believed that all cultures developed and progressed in the same pattern. In other words, whether in Africa, Asia, or the Americas, all cultures pass through the same series of stages on the march toward progression. Rather ethnocentrically, they felt these stages began with savagery and eventually ended up at modernization.
Marxism is theories of German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Marxism theories include political and economic theories. Marxist study is used by the archeologists to study diverse cultures around the world. Marxist theories focus on the factors that causes social transformation to the cultures. Marxist theories are basically depending on economy, production and its distribution, class conflict and social class, and their relationship with a social change in a culture or in a community. Basically, Marxism theory is that economic relationship are based on power which lead to class struggle.
Culture History was the major theoretical method used by archeologists in the early 20th century. Archeologists used this theoretical method to define past societies or cultures by their artefacts and structures. Cultural history method is based on two assumptions which is normal behavior expressed by the artefacts and culture is defined by those normal behaviors. So, by using this methodology archeologists used to identify or define the previous cultures and their timeline using artifacts. That is the main reason why archeologists collect more artefacts.
Culture History method used in the article Reading the Minds of Rock by David Whitley. This article become most useful tool in recent archeological work to understand the cultures’ symbols and ideology of ancient people. Whitley worked with pictographs, geoglyphs and petroglyphs. In this article David Whitley write about the different processes that needed to document and interpret. He also wrote about how to preserve the fragile of artifact. He used many examples from around the world to shows the values of rock art studies to his readers.
Whitley mentioned about engraved rock art in his article which means it’s an artifact. Whitley use rock art which is made by Shamans to define why did shamans create rock art?. In the article he did research than he came up with the conclusion which is “It was commonly stated that shamans were required to pass immense grizzly bear and rattlesnake spirits to enter the supernatural, or to fight off attacks by skeletons or ghosts-all events that are tied to unpleasant rather than ecstatic emotions.” (Whitley, p.4) which shows the beliefs or symbols of shamans cultures that why shamans create art rock.