From Academic Kids

The word typology literally means the study of types. Beyond this simple definition, the term has at least four distinct uses in the fields listed below:



In archaeology a typology is the result of the classification of things according to their characteristics. It is based on a view of the world familiar from Plato's metaphysics called essentialism. Essentialism is the idea that world is divided into real, discontinuous and immutable ‘kinds’. This idea is the basis for most typological constructions, particularly of stone artefacts where essential forms are often thought of as ‘mental templates’, or combinations of traits that are favoured by the maker. Variation in artefact form and attributes is seen as a consequence of the imperfect realization of the template, and is usually attributed to differences in raw material properties or individuals' technical competences.

In the 19th and early 20th Centuries archaeological typologies were usually constructed using a combination of empirical observation and intuition. With the development of statistical techniques and numerical taxonomy in the 1960s, mathematical methods (including Cluster analysis, Principal components analysis, correspondence analysis and Factor analysis) have been used to build typologies. During the 1990s archaeologists began to use phylogenetic methods borrowed from Cladistics.

See also Taxonomy, seriation


Dunnell, R.C. (1986) Methodological issues in Americanist artifact classification. In M.B. Schiffer (ed.) Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory. Pp.35-99. New York: Academic Press.

Hill, J.N. and R.K. Evans (1972) A model for classification and typology. In D.L. Clarke (ed.) Models in Archaeology. Pp.231-274. London: Methuen.

Whallon, R. and J.A.Brown (eds) (1982) Essays on Archaeological Typology. Evanston: Center for American Archaeology Press.


Typology is a branch of linguistics which concerns itself with comparing the properties that languages have, disregarding their genetic relationships.

See linguistic typology and morphological typology.


Carl Gustav Jung proposed a psychological typology based on archetypes.

See Jungian Archetypes.

Also, Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers developed a typology that categorizes a person by personality types.

See Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.


Typological terms in sociology have been developed by Ferdinand Tönnies (see normal type) and Max Weber (see ideal type).


Main article: Allegory in the Middle Ages

Typology is a theological doctrine or theory of types and their antitypes found in scripture. Medieval allegory began as an early Christian method for synthesizing the discrepancies between the Old Testament and the New Testament. While both testaments were studied and seen as equally divinely inspired by God, the Old Testament contained discontinuities for Christians -- for example the Jewish kosher laws. The Old Testament was therefore seen in relation to how it would predict the events of the New Testament, in particular how the events of the Old Testament related to the events of Christs life. The events of the Old Testament were seen as part of the story, a precursor, with the events of of Christs life bringing these stories to a full conclusion. The technical name for seeing the New Testament in the Old Testament is called typology.

One example of typology is the story of Jonah and the whale from the Old Testament. Medieval allegorical interpretation of this story is that it prefigures Christ's burial, the stomach of the whale as Christ's tomb. Jonah was eventually freed from the whale after three days, so did Christ rise from his tomb after three days. Thus, whenever one finds an allusion to Jonah in Medieval art or literature, it is usually an allegory for the burial and resurrection of Christ. Another common typological allegory is with the four major Old testament prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. These four prophets prefigure the four Apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. There was no end to the number of analogies that commentators could find between stories of the Old Testament and the New.de:Typologie nl:Typologie no:Typologi


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