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Despite discussions of the 'afterlife' of monuments, the role of the past in the past and the spatial and chronological links manifested in monument 'complexes' and 'ritual landscapes', to date there has been little theoretical consideration of how such persistence of place was possible; and why this was so. Long-term practices occurring over many centuries and human generations are indicated by discoveries at Cladh Hallan, Ferry Fryston and Fiskerton. In Britain, developer-funded investigations have demonstrated numerous landscape and depositional continuities. How could such accurate memories of earlier events be maintained for so long? Was this merely the political manipulation of the past, or was it a more reverential or religious referential process? Was this simply the 'dead weight of tradition', or are we witnessing the power of oral histories, myths and legends to transcend time?
We invite papers from archaeologists interested in such questions of persistence of place and practice. One aim of the session is to move discussion away from simplistic notions of 'ritual' landscapes; and towards the relationships between quotidian activities and arenas of 'everyday life' and the remnants of past features and events. Large-scale landscape references and small-scale, particular events could all be a focus for discussion. We welcome contributions from those working in developer-funded archaeology who have undertaken landscape-scale projects where such physical and temporal connections have been manifest.
Discussant: Duncan Garrow
Materials have inherent physical and chemical properties that form a loose framework to how humans choose to manipulate them. Acts of conception, appreciation, production and use are affected by the raw material, but are also influenced by the social agents, other materials, historical events and physical landscape that contextualise the event (e.g. Dobres and Robb 2005).
Although in principle these ideas are no longer controversial, applying them to archaeological datasets and time periods remains a challenge. Discussions of technology and material culture often depend on outmoded, acontextual positions such as common sense, technological progress, industrial separation, diffusion and "Darwinian" selection of superior traits.
The key issue for technology studies is to apply the new theoretical toolkit pragmatically to our hard-won datasets. The possibility and practicality of archaeologists routinely engaging with modern theoretical concerns rather than being passive consumers has been debated in recent years (Ingold 2007 and comments; Jones 2004 and responses in Archaeometry 47(1)). Unsurprisingly, no clear consensus has been achieved.
This session will highlight case studies that bridge the gap between theory and data, bringing together material science, landscape studies and social archaeology. The case studies will see action, choice and context on a human scale as materialised in specific archaeological datasets.
Dobres, M.A. and Robb, J.E. (2005) "Doing Agency: Introductory remarks
on methodology. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory. 12: 159-166
Ingold, T. (2007) Materials against materiality. Archaeological Dialogues. 14: 1-15
Jones, A. (2004) Archaeometry and materiality: Materials-based analysis
in theory and practice. Archaeometry. 46: 327-338
17th–19th December 2010