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Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology



Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
[email protected]

"As the familiar domain of our dwelling, it is ''with' us, not against us, but it is no less real for that. And through living in it, the landscape becomes a part of us, just as we are a part of it" (Ingold, 154).

"This is not, however, the way we perceive the temporality of the taskscape. For we do so not as spectators but as participants, in the very performance of our tasks" (Ingold, 159).

I am interested in the idea that archaeology is a place-making practice. On the surface, the statement immediately seems to make sense: archaeologists define a site within certain perameters, often cordoning it off to protect it from the outside world, so that (hopefully) a physical construction will emerge that is clearly separate from the un-excavated areas around it. Clearly, a site becomes a place, a specific location that can be described and experienced, even interacted with. I think it is important to note that it is a new place, distinct from the place originally created by earlier cultures. While this seems like an obvious statement, I think it is necessary to think about because, as Sarah mentions, so much of how we think of a place is wrapped up in time. What does it mean to the existence of a place when it's original function has ceased? I believe we talked about this idea a little during our places/non-places discussion, but it continues to interest me. This same idea has bothered me when visiting churches in Europe; certainly some of the sacral power in the cathedral is interrupted when a tourist decides to sneak a picture during services.

But before I get too off-topic, if archaeology creates new places, what type of places are they? They still may be, as Ingold discusses, places in which we are participants. And for those who live near them, the site becomes part of their home landscape. But by creating a site, one also necessitates the imposition of rules: don't climb here, don't touch that, etc. This seems fairly reminiscent of our ideas about elevators being both places and non-places. Should we consider an archaeological site a third category of place?


Briefly, I just wanted to say something about the incorporation of the body into place. I think this is another idea that seems natural when considering vast, expansive landscapes. Standing at the edge of a cliff or gazing off into the ocean, people generally feel some sort of connection to "Nature," the past, those who have passed away, etc. It is undeniable that, by viewing a place that is far greater than one could create on his/her own, it is easy to feel a spiritual connection with one's surroundings. I would be intersted in looking into accounts (assuming they exist) of how people have connected not just with a landscape but with a smaller "place." I have probably been reading too much about Egyptian religion again, so I'm sorry if I keep bringing up ancient Egypt as my one-an-only example. But to the Egyptians, both temples and tombs (99% of the structures that we have left from pharaonic civilization) were interacted with in specific ways, and certain actions were meant to be performed at certain places. Surely, this is true of many cultures. In that way, a building was a "living" place. The stones the Egyptians quarried to construct such places were believed to be inhabited by personalities - not spirits, per se, but they were not dead rocks. Therefore, a connection and incorporation of the body into a landscape could, theoretically, have continued into built places as well. I'm not sure that there's any evidence that the Egyptians thought about this at all (temples and often tombs were mini-cosmoses themselves, so that conceptualization of the space probably took precedence), but it is interesting to think about.