Abstract: Reflections from a Middle Eastern Archaeological Diary

Lecturer: Marie-Henriette Gates

This talk will present personal observations drawn from forty years of archaeological experience in Syria, Iran and especially Turkey, where I worked as student, team member and project director. Dramatic changes in lifestyles, technology and communication during these decades have transformed the way field research is practiced and disseminated. Some intangible aspects of the archaeological experience remain constant, however, and provide a backdrop whose impact -- both light-hearted and serious --must also be acknowledged.    

To illustrate the outside forces that affect fieldwork, I will show how personal experience may inspire interpretation in preference to "scientific" determinations. I will consider the frequent disconnect between a project's technological ambitions and their realization; and the role of chance and forces of nature in modifying a field project's results. Finally, I will discuss the manipulation of archaeological research by the public sector, and its impact on excavations, such as occurs in Turkey today.

 

Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic (for lay reader):

A. Christie, Come Tell Me How You Live (1946)

M.-H. Gates, "Archaeology and the Ancient Near East: Methods and Limits" pp. 65-78 in A Companion to the Ancient Near East [Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World], ed. by D.C. Snell. Oxford: Blackwell (2005)

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