Interpreting Archaeology

Convened By
K. Anne Pyburn (USA)

Theme Details
Archaeologists routinely interpret the pasts of others. The approaches taken in this theme include issues relating to the collaboration of science and interpretation, consideration of how the role of archaeology can be enhanced in ways that would make the discipline relevant and responsive to current interests of communities in which it is practiced and experimentation in different media.


Ethnography Of Archaeology

Organized By
Matt Edgeworth (UK) and Denise Maria Cavalcante Gomes (Brazil)

Session Details
Ethnography of archaeology is the reflexive and ironic form of ethnoarchaeology. Focusing on the cultural practices of archaeology itself, it employs similar techniques to those an ethnographer might use to study more distant cultures. The outward-looking gaze is turned inwards, and the implicit notion of the privileged standpoint of the observer over the observed is challenged. The focus may still be on material culture, but on our own as well as that of some distant other. Perhaps not surprising, then, that ethnographic accounts of archaeological practice often turn out to be very different from accounts given by archaeological practitioners themselves.

Session contributions could perhaps be described as studies in ‘ethnoarchaeology’, ‘social archaeology’, ‘contextual archaeology’ or even ‘processual archaeology’, but only because (through a kind of ironic twist), they bring the ethnographic perspective to bear upon the social dimension or the cultural context of the processes of archaeology itself – thereby uniting these disparate approaches into one by focusing precisely on that which they all take for granted.

Over the last fifteen years ethnographies of archaeology have been conducted in many different parts of the world. They examine not only the micro-processes of fieldwork and post-fieldwork practices, but also the wider socio-political contexts in which archaeology takes place. The impact of archaeological projects on local communities is an area currently receiving particular attention. The purpose of the session is to bring such research to the wider audience it deserves. This will be the first time that ethnographers of archaeological practice from different sites and backgrounds have come together to discuss the implications of their work.

Contact: Dr Matt Edgeworth,

Contributions are especially encouraged from researchers who have carried out ethnographic studies of some aspect of archaeological practice, or who can use the ethnographic perspective to shed some new light on archaeology as a culturally and historically situated activity. A broad range of international speakers is sought.

Papers will be prepared in advance and posted on the web several weeks before the session. Each participant will have 10-15 minutes to make a presentation, followed by time for questions and discussion. After the talks, the participants will form a panel and an open debate with the audience will be held

An Introduction
Matt Edgeworth (Albion Archaeology, Bedford, UK) Archaeological Vision as Embodied Practice
Charles Goodwin (Applied Linguistics, UCLA, USA)
Cultural Heritage As Societal Dialogue? An Ethnographic Study Of Swedish Heritage Management And Its Relationship To The Past And The Public
Håkan Karlsson (Dept of Archaeology, Göteborg University, Sweden) and Anders Gustafsson (County Museum of Bohuslän, Uddevalla, Sweden) Pictures, Ideas and Things: the Production and
Currency of Archaeological Images
Jonathan Bateman (Council of British Archaeology, York, UK)
A Video Film: Untitled
Ashish Chadha (Archaeology Centre, Stanford University, USA)
Complicit Agendas: Archaeology and Ethnography in Collaboration
Lisa Breglia (Rice University, Houston, USA)
Amazonian Archaeology And Local Identities
Denise Maria Cavalcante Gomes (Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil) Reflecting upon Archaeological Practice: Multiple Visions of a German Hamburgian Site
Blythe E. Roveland (St John’s University, New York, USA)
Studying Archaeological Fieldwork In The Field: Views From Monte Polizzo
Cornelius Holtorf (Swedish National Heritage Board, Stockholm) The Leskernick Project, Cornwall, UK: An Ethnographic Study of Multidisciplinary Collaboration During Archaeological Fieldwork at a Bronze Age Ritual and Domestic Site
Michael Wilmore (The Open University, UK)
Conjunctures In Ancient Maya Archaeological Practice
Timoteo Rodriguez (McNair Scholar, University of California, Berkeley, USA)

Session Time
Day Sunday Date 22nd June
Time 9AM-1PM & 4-6PM Room Pryzbyla 321

Archaeology And The Arts: The Ancient Muses And Other Inspirations

Organized By
John H. Jameson, Jr. (USA) & Lance Foster (Iowa Tribe of Kansas & Nebraska)

Session Details
The practice of archaeology, as well as archaeologically derived information and objects, can inspire a wide variety of artistic expressions ranging from straightforward computer-generated reconstructions and traditional artists’ conceptions to other art forms such as sculpture, poetry, and opera. Although some level of conjecture will always be present in these works, they are often no less conjectural than technical interpretations and have the benefit of providing visual and conceptual imagery that can communicate contexts and settings in compelling and unique ways. The cognitive connections between archaeology and art reflect an inductive approach in defining and explaining the resource and making it more meaningful to the public. An emphasis on artistic interpretations and narrative is consistent with a new direction in archaeological practice that challenges the positivist paradigm of processual archaeology, promotes the relevance and validity of deductive reasoning over inductive reasoning, and represents a fundamental change in how archaeologists plan and conduct research and evaluate significance.
A newly published book, entitled “Ancient Muses: Archaeology and the Arts,” examines a variety of examples of this new approach as it applies to more meaningful and effective approaches to interpretation that emphasize public awareness, access, and inspiration. Part of the discussion of this session will focus on the development of the book and the initial reactions from the reading audience. Panel members will be composed of several of the book authors plus other contributing artists and archaeologists.
Position papers will be prepared by panel members that describe why they were drawn to this theme and how they view the connections between art and archaeology. Position papers will be posted on the WAC-5 web site in early 2003. At the beginning of the session, panel members will give brief synopses of their respective position papers. This will be followed by discussions and feedback with audience participation/interaction followed by a question-and-answer period.

Proposed schedule:

9:00 John H. Jameson, Jr. and Lance M. Foster – Introduction to Session
9:05 John H. Jameson, Jr. – Archaeology and the Arts on the Inspirational Highway
9:25 Lance M. Foster – Confessions of a Monster: Artist or Archaeologist?
9:45 David Middlebrook – Connections of Archaeology to Large Scale Public Art
10:05 Johannes Kranz – Community Building And Identity: A Sculpture Park In Malacatoya, Nicaragua
10:25 Christine A. Finn – “Figures in a Landscape”: Jacquetta Hawkes’s 1953 film about Barbara Hepworth. Introduced by Christine Finn. (video and stills)
10:45 Questions & answers

11:00-11:30 BREAK

11:30 James G. Gibb – Awash with Art, Archaeologists Take their Cue
11:50 Sarah M. Nelson – Writing Fiction as a Tool for the Archaeologist
12:10 Alessandra Lopez y Royo – Prambanan: dance, architecture, archaeology
12:30 Nicola Laneri – Stratigraphy: Digging Living Layers and “Art-aeology Experience” and ArcheoTrance: An Archaeological Dance Floor.
12:50 Questions & answers

1:00-2:00 LUNCH
2:00-3:30 Plenary (see WAC-5 Program)

4:00 David G. Orr – Sherds ABOVE the Loess: Historical Archaeology as Art
4:20 John E. Ehrenhard – Archaeology Goes to the Opera
4:40 Claire Smith, Kirsten Brett, Peter Manabaru, and Jimmy Wesan – From rock art to digital image: Archaeology and Art in Aboriginal Australia

John E. Ehrenhard
Christine A. Finn
Lance M. Foster
James G. Gibb
John H. Jameson, Jr.
Johannes Kranz
Nicola Laneri
Alessandra Lopez y Royo
David Middlebrook
David G. Orr
Claire Smith
Kirsten Brett
Peter Manabaru
Jimmy Wesan
Beyond Love And Sex: Heritage As A Theme For Music?
Gamini Wijesuriya Writing Fiction as a Tool for the Archaeologist
Sarah M. Nelson (University of Denver, USA)
Community Building And Identity: A Sculpture Park In Malacatoya, Nicaragua
Johannes Kranz Prambanan: dance, architecture, archaeology
Alessandra Lopez y Royo
From Rock Art To Digital Image: Archaeology And Art In Aboriginal Australia
Claire Smith (Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA, Australia), Kirsten Brett, Peter Manabaru and Jimmy Wesan Introduction
John H. Jameson, Jr. and Lance M. Foster
Archaeology And The Arts On The Inspirational Highway
John H. Jameson, Jr. Confessions of a Monster: Artist or Archaeologist?
Lance M. Foster
Connections Of Archaeology To Large Scale Public Art
David Middlebrook “Figures in a Landscape”: Jacquetta Hawkes’s 1953 film about Barbara Hepworth. Introduced by Christine Finn. (video and stills)
Christine A. Finn
Archaeology Goes To The Opera
John E. Ehrenhard

Sherds ABOVE the Loess: Historical Archaeology as Art
David G. Orr
Archaeology And The Visual Imagination
Martin Henig (Wolfson College, Oxford University, UK)

Session Time
Day Monday Date 23rd June
Time 9AM-1PM & 4-6PM Room Pryzbyla 321

Teaching Archaeology As A Global Resource: Interpreting The Past, Creating The Present

Organized By
K. Anne Pyburn (USA)

Session Details
The future of archaeology as a discipline as well as the future of the archaeological record itself are in the hands of educators who will shape the perspective of the next generation of archaeologists. The increasing globalization of information systems means that teaching can no longer be a parochial endeavor. News releases, government programs and funding agencies are increasingly sensitive to multinational sources and pressures. Interpretations of the past now have the daunting potential to rapidly impact not only discussions internal to nation states but international politics and global markets. In this session a group of educators and students considers the ethical responsibilities, political opportunities, and social context of archaeology in the 21st century.
Introduction: Ethics In Archaeological Context
K. Anne Pyburn (Indiana University, USA) Gendered heritage and popular mediation
Liv Helga Dommasnes (Department of Archaeology, Bergen Museum, Bergen, Norway)

Teaching Gendered Alternatives: Archaeology As Critical Thinking
Margaret W. Conkey (Department of Anthropology and Archaeological Research Facility, University of California, Berkeley, California, USA)
A matter of social justice
Claire Smith (Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Australia)
From Scientific Imperialism To Romantic Subjectivism
Joe Watkins (Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, USA) Models of the Past and Theories of the Present: The Politics of Producing Archaeological Knowledge
Alfredo Minetti (Indiana University/Museu Nacional/CNPq) and Marcia Bezerra de Almeida (Universidade de Sao Paulo/CNPq)
A Serbian Student Perspective On Graduate Archaeology Education In The United States
Zarko Tankosic (Department of Anthropology, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA) Ethical awareness of the moral responsibilities; has the situation changed?
Peter Stone (International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)
Archaeology To The Lay Public In Brazil: Three Experiences
Pedro Funari (IFCH-Unicamp e MAE-USP, University of Barcelona, University of Illinois, USA) Padrinaje, Sustainability, and Sustained Underdevelopment of Maya Ahijados
Juan Castillo Cocom

Session Time
Day Thursday Date 26th June
Time 9AM-1PM Room Pryzbyla 321


Organized By
Michael Shanks (USA) and Douglass Bailey (UK)

Session Details
The session will take the form of a workshop and forum exploring, reviewing and discussing recent experimentation in different media in archaeological research. Precirculated statements and papers will set the scene for brief presentations at the conference of new work being developed in projects in central and south America, India, northern and eastern Europe, the Mediterranean and the United States. Many of these media experiments (in video, cartography, photography, writing, sound, and hypermedia) are being developed by the session participants. These practical cases will be the foundation for wider discussion of the changing forms of media in archaeology.

The link between media and archaeology is one of the originating moments of the discipline. Archaeology, as a disciplinary practice, has always had as its epistemological basis multiple strategies of representation and remediation, ranging from traditional media such as text, cartography and photography, to TV, hypertext and the cyberworld. The session begins with a premise that this is now at the crux of archaeological practice. It is proposed that the choice of different media practices is as much about particular attitudes, values, politics and aesthetics, as it is about a capacity for establishing and
disseminating knowledge of the past.

The participants propose we understand media as mediation – forms of manifested practice that articulate our engagement with the past and its remains in the present. Critically, this understanding focuses attention on the role of media in counterpoising conceptual, epistemological and representational frameworks. How knowledge is established and what is known is implicated in the manner it is re-presented. Additionally, the question is prompted of the further implications (technical, methodological, and theoretical) of this understanding of media. And what role does this notion of mediation play in critical and reflexive archaeological practice, that is archaeologies actively aware of their place in contemporary cultural politics? And what of IT – technical opportunities as well as politics? This session is also planned as a forum for building interdisciplinary connections that enhance our comprehension of new technology and its relationship to archaeology as a mediating practice. The participants consider ways forward through concepts of translation, modes of engagement, remediation, and experimentation.
This session claims distinction in presenting experimental work rooted in theoretically informed technique built around cultural fields or ecologies, not the objects of the past. The theoretical context is wide – from feminist aesthetics to performance theory, from community arts to ideas of the modernist avant-garde. The work is often collaborative and based upon professional media experience. The methodologies employed are site-specific. The practitioners are critical and self-reflexive about their own technological intervention. Here technology is not applied as a method for objectification, but as a mediating practice that enunciates our rendezvous with the past, as archaeologists.

Douglass Bailey, Lecturer, Department of Archaeology, Cardiff University, UK
Fiona Campbell, Institute of Archaeology, Goteborgs Universitet, Sweden
Ashish Chadha, Stanford Archaeology Center, USA
Paula Ebron, Associate Professor, Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology, Stanford University
Ezra Erb, Stanford Archaeology Center, USA
Jonna Hansson, Institute of Archaeology, Goteborgs Universitet, Sweden
Michael Shanks, Professor, Department of Classics and Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology, Stanford University, USA
Timothy Webmoor, Stanford Archaeology Center, USA
Chris Witmore, Stanford Archaeology Center, USA

Neolithic Architecture: Transgressing Boundaries
Douglass Bailey (Department of Archaeology, Cardiff University, UK)
Mediating embodiment through peripatetic video: an experiment in the corporeality of place
Chris Witmore (Stanford Archaeology Center, USA)
Archaeology On Tour
Fiona Campbell and Jonna Hansson (Institute of Archaeology, Göteborgs Universitet, Sweden) Mediating time: stratigraphy as temporal cartography
Ashish Chadha (Stanford Archaeology Center, USA)
Performing A Region: Cultural Memory And The Materiality Of Culture
Paulla Ebron (Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology, Stanford University, USA) Mengele, memory, machinery: Jean Tinguely’s Totentanz and an archaeology of complacency
Ezra Erb (Stanford Archaeology Center, USA)
Mediational Techniques And Re-presenting Multiple Engagements With Traditional Cultural Properties (TCP’s) In North America
Timothy Webmoor (Stanford Archaeology Center, USA) Matters of metaMedia in contemporary archaeology
Michael Shanks (Department of Classics and Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology, Stanford University, USA)

Session Time
Day Wednesday Date 25th June
Time 9-11AM Room O’Boyle 109

Explaining Ourselves

Organized By
K. Anne Pyburn (USA), Kodzo Gavua (Ghana) and Erin Kuns (USA)

Session Details
This session is being organized with the view to encouraging dialogue about how the role of archaeology can be enhanced in ways that would make the discipline relevant and responsive to current interests of communities in which it is practiced. We contend that archaeology can be an agent for fostering understanding and peaceful coexistence among peoples of different historical backgrounds, and a major player in the political, economic and social development of deprived nations if we (archaeologists) adopt unorthodox approaches to work without compromising our academic and scientific fervor.

We propose a revision of the scope and style of our collaboration with local communities as a key strategy for enhancing the role of archaeology. The adoption of synergistic relationships at the intellectual level, and at the level of politicians, administrators, suppliers of labor and other members of local communities would engender communication that would provide us with enough input to advance our discipline, while addressing the concerns of our collaborators.
Bridging Archaeology, Heritage And The Public: The Naniwa Archaeological Resource Centre
Katsuyuki Okamura (Archaeologist, Osaka Museum of History, Osaka, Japan)
Session Time
Day Wednesday Date 25th June
Time 4-6PM Room Caldwell 109