Intersecting magisteria: Bridging archaeological science and traditional knowledge

Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh, T. J. Ferguson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Stephen Jay Gould famously argued that science and religion are fundamentally 'nonoverlapping magisteriaa'- two spheres of understanding that should peacefully coexist without intersecting. However, when Native American religious practices contain cultural and historical information that can inform archaeological interpretations, the wall separating these spheres of knowledge necessarily breaks down. This essay examines how archaeological science and traditional knowledge can be bridged, by exploring the ancient history and contemporary meanings of archaeological sites in northeastern Arizona, a landscape that is important to the Hopi and Zuni, among other tribes. Methodologically this work builds outward from a series of 'placebased interviewsa' to create a framework for collaborative research, while theoretically it builds upwards from the foundation of an 'ethnocritical approacha' that willingly returns to the sacred. Through such collaborative projects, we may develop a shared authority for shared places, meeting upon the magisteriaa's common ground.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-346
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Social Archaeology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010


  • Hopi
  • Zuni
  • authority
  • collaboration
  • community
  • dialogue
  • landscape
  • respect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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