Talal Akasheh (Cultech for Heritage and Conservation); Zeidan Kafafi (Hashemite University)


Many archaeological theorists have encouraged their colleagues to examine their biases, however, the interpretations of archaeological findings can still be influenced by many factors not directly related to the data.  The interpretation of archaeological findings is often entirely left to the archaeologists responsible for an excavation, who may misinterpret data or arrive at wrong conclusions. Although careful peer review can be used to verify the authenticity of the findings, it may not be enough to confirm such conclusions.  Archaeologists need to acknowledge the misconceptions or prejudices that drive them to the a priori interpretation of facts and data according to a preconceived regime of thinking.  Another problem may arise as a result of the unfamiliarity of foreign archaeologists working in a region totally unfamiliar to them thus leading to oversights and misconceptions that prevail due to their background, origin or religious affiliation.  The theme “Archaeology as Subjective” encourages session submissions that delve into the many factors that can influence archaeological interpretations.  Sessions that investigate how these interpretations are popularized for the general public and how misinterpretations can serve as propaganda are also welcome.


Boundaries of Space and Time in Middle Eastern Archaeology

Alison Damick (Columbia University, United States of America); Brian Boyd (Columbia University, United States of America)


Relationships of time and space are at the disciplinary core of archaeology. Archaeologists have long grappled with the dissonance between processes in the archaeological record and our observation of them. Discussion around this problem highlights the basic temporal assumptions archaeologists often rely on to identify and draw meaning from patterns in the material record. In doing so, archaeology creates boundaries, both spatial and temporal. However, the struggle with the intellectual and political implications of how such boundaries are described has deep implications for understanding the past and for the contemporary world. Drawing lines through history has political resonance, as do the spatial consequences that are often the result. This session invites papers that speak to the articulation between bounded history and bounded space, with emphasis on archaeological research in the Middle East. Examples of potential issues to address may include:

– The history/prehistory divide
– Periodization, relative chronologies and the still-prevalent European cultural framework
– Describing the “local,” “regional,” and “global” from a non-colonial context
– Alternative philosophies of time, especially their absence in Middle Eastern archaeology
– The place of the temporary and ephemeral in the archaeological record
– Everyday practicalities of archaeological work across modern political boundaries in the Middle East