CFPo: The Senses and Aesthetics of Archaeological Science


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.


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:

CFPo: Zeitgeist


What new idea, concept, methodology is haunting your current thoughts?

Academic publication is always lagging behind the conversations at bars, the hallway chats, the verbal ephemera that winds us up and inspires us to try something new in our research. By the time the paper publication is out, the march of the ideas has moved on. Are you on the vanguard or are you struggling to keep your head above water? One person’s fresh new idea is another person’s rehash–but until the fledgling takes flight you can’t know whether this will be the next game-changer in archaeology. If there can be such a thing.

This Call for Posts is for airing that terrifying leap into the unknown, vocalizing that flashy new idea that may spin out to nothing or may bring your work into the next level. It doesn’t have to be a big conceptual shift, it can be a simple brief of an interesting direction you’d like to move toward, or a consideration of current thought in your specialty.

Submissions of no more than 750 words are due October 9th. 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 this month’s theme editor, Colleen Morgan,

CFPo: Books

A shelf of many books
Consideration. Photo by LollyKnit.

What book would you recommend to someone to get them thinking about archaeology in a new way? For August we’d like to know what you’d recommend for holiday reading. It needn’t be an archaeology book. It could even be fiction. All it needs to be is a book that you think deserves to be read. Entries can be long-book length discussions, we have the spare electrons, or they could be back of the book blurb length. Whatever it is, if you liked it we want to hear about it.

If you don’t have a Then Dig account, leave a comment below and we’ll set you up with one.

Photo: Consideration by LollyKnit. Licenced under a Creative Commons BY-NC licence.