Saturday, June 27, 2015

Some Other "Pseudo-Sciences"

Lets consider some other subject areas that fit in a recent commentator's definition of pseudo-sciences. These are areas of study without departments, majors, or even classes:
  • Elamite

  • Kassite

  • Urartian

  • Hurrian

  • Luwian
There are no Elamite departments, no Kassite departments, no Urartian departments, no Hurrian departments, and no Luwian departments in North America.

There are no classes in Elamite, Kassite, Urartian, Hurrian, or Luwian. Now I actually took a class in Hurrian but it was listed in the course catalog as Akkadian, so according to our opinionated critic, that does not count. I also took some Luwian but it was as a part of a Hittite course; so therefore by the same reasoning that does not count either.

Hittite almost fits in this situation. It used to be that Hittite was taught at four universities in the United States. Now there is only one. If Hittite ceases to be taught will it cease to be a legitimate academic discipline?

Hurrian is a particularly interesting case study. Not only can one not major in Hurrian or take classes in Hurrian but:
  1. We do not know where the capital of the Mitanni empire was.

  2. Although we know that the Hurrians used Khabur ware, so did the Assyrians, and it has been found in Iran. So there is no distinctive Hurrian pottery. We cannot tell the difference between the material culture of the Hurrians and several other cultures in the area.

  3. So archaeologically, the Hurrians are invisible and indistinguishable from other cultures in the area.
Now, we are not talking about some backwater, the Mitanni empire was a major world empire in the Late Bronze Age.

So the idea that there must be an academic program in order to have a legitimate academic discipline is specious and only pushed for ideological reasons.