Every society evolves a way of life. For modern humans it is not easy to understand how much past peoples depended on the seasons, coped without electricity, or within the confines of their climate. Climates have changed in the past to a surprising degree. To find what archeological phenomena was for demands that the archeologist put themselves in a different mind set in a different period of time.
Explaining archeological phenomena requires us to leave behind how we use objects. Sometimes the use will not have changed, cooking pots remain cooking pots. Sometimes the use might be from a source there is no way we could have known about. For instance someone might have taken an object and held it in adoration and there is nothing to indicate that for us.
One of the curious patterns of behavior, which seems to have come through time, is throwing objects into water. Every fountain and pool open to the public nowadays will have coins of small denomination covering the bottom. But this is done perhaps with a wish for something good. Streams and rivers being researched in Europe often have clusters of objects which are valuable in specific areas; carefully made items which would have cost a lot of money in materials that are sometimes precious. Some could have fallen but the sheer number of such items suggests that there is more going on. The easy options are to say these were holy items, this was a site of religious significance or this was a place of worship. Looking at items when there was little written down about general life, if anything, gives us no clues as to what was really happening. The significance of water seems to be important to every generation of humans.
It is a simple matter to invest our predecessors with knowledge and motives they did not have. This is probably because there is an inherent belief that older generations ‘knew’ what we do not.
Another issue is that sometimes articles were created to solve a particular problem in a certain location. Again, because we live as we do, it is tricky to assess why that object was made.
One of the most successful methods of eliminating unlikely ideas is to use practical archeology. In other words, reconstruct the conditions of the time. Items of battle when tried out will be shown to have uses merely looking at them does not convey. Buildings from the past will show ideas which are practical and useful. The Roman hypercaust is an example.
Archeological phenomena has to be approached with an open mind but that does not mean ideas don’t have to flow.