CFPo: The Senses and Aesthetics of Archaeological Science

CFPO_Then_Dig

Archaeological science is a critical area of current archaeological practice. Analyses of ancient DNA from the teeth of long-dead ancestors, isotopes found in the remains of broken pottery, and the chemical signatures from flakes of obsidian are radically altering our understanding of the past. Unlike the pervasive fieldwork-based narrative of archaeology, these major discoveries take place far away from the trenches in the clean, well-lit laboratories of major academic institutions. Yet these discoveries are no less impactful, causing in some cases radical shifts in the kinds of stories we tell. Indeed the archaeological scientist is, much like the fieldworker, engaged in the craft of archaeology (sensu Shanks and McGuire 1996).

In this issue of Then Dig we explore encounters with the past in the context of archaeological science. From the abstract expressionist appreciation of ceramic thin sections, to the treasure hunt for phytoliths under a microscope, to the severe precautionary costumes of the Clean Room, we investigate the aesthetic, the multisensorial, and the profound in archaeological science.

Authors might reflect on how the centering of the micro-scale and the abstract are brought to bear, and how the interplay between scientist and materials present the unexpected. We also encourage contributors to consider the embodied moments of lab work and discuss those findings that produce visceral reactions and new understandings of the past.

Editors:

Dr. Andrew Roddick, McMaster University
Dr. Colleen Morgan, University of York

Submissions of no more than 750 words are due June 1st. Submissions in the form of images, music, video, and other multimedia are welcomed with full-throated enthusiasm. Your submission will be subjected to open peer review before being posted on Then Dig.

Please send your submissions to: colleen.morgan@york.ac.uk

Published by

Colleen Morgan

Colleen Morgan recently received her Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. After receiving her B.A. in Anthropology/Asian Studies in 2004 at the University of Texas, Colleen worked as a professional archaeologist. Since that time, she has worked in Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, England, Greece, Texas, Hawaii and California, excavating sites 100 years old and 9,000 years old and anything in-between. Her dissertation is based on building archaeological narratives with New Media, using digital photography, video, mobile and locative devices. She is deeply interested in excavation methodology, high falutin’ theory, interstitial spaces, skeuomorphs and good bourbon.