Strait Street in Malta’s capital Valletta is an extraordinary street, and one that has fascinating stories to tell about its resident population and visitors over nearly 300 years. For Strait Street (part of which was also known as The Gut) was a focal point for visiting navies, from Nelson’s time until the departure of the British Royal Navy in the 1960s and early ’70s. But such was the contradiction between this street’s activities and Catholic society that the street has remained empty post-abandonment. This situation is only now beginning to change. This chapter briefly summarizes a project which set out to record, interpret, and present Strait Street to diverse audiences, focusing here on the field methods used in the investigation. While this is primarily an archaeological study, the methodology also incorporates ethnographic and historic components to construct a complex narrative of coexistence and tolerance in the heart of the Mediterranean.
William E. Boyd
In the archaeological context, a sense of the evolving landscape becomes especially important where there is considerable time depth or cultural sequencing inherent in a single site. The prehistoric occupants of that site used and related to the landscape in very different ways throughout time. However, archaeology is a modern endeavour, a form of enquiry directly related to post-Enlightenment and modernist conceptions and constructions of knowledge, place, and society, enacted within a complex of social-administrative and political constraints. The physical existence of an archaeological site reflects its multi-contextual conceptual identity. The concept of cognitive ownership has tended to be couched in relatively simple pragmatic terms: observing behaviour and drawing categorization of individuals and groups engaging in a cultural place as a management tool. In some studies, this has led to deeper understanding of cultural values, while in others, to more pragmatic management or activist conclusions.
Severin Fowles and Kaet Heupel
Archaeological methodologies direct our attention towards the study of present, material things. This is frequently praised as its greatest contribution to social theory. But humans cultivate relationships with absent things as well, and these absent things can be marked and assertive, exerting a powerful influence on society despite their immateriality. How, then, to engage in an archaeological study of absent things? And how might we undertake this project without slipping into the romantic notion that absences are necessarily mournful, in the sense that so many authors now write of the absence of the past as tragedy of the present? Here, it is argued that this issue has a special relevance to the archaeology of the contemporary past, and the authors draw upon recent excavations at the New Buffalo Commune-a 1960s and 1970s hippie commune in New Mexico-to explore the shifting relationships between modernity and absence on the one hand, and between absence and desire on the other.
The chapter contributes to unravelling how Actor-Network-Theory (ANT) as a method of inquiry might inform the archaeological understanding of the contemporary world. To illustrate this, the author engages in an inquiry on Shin Takamatsu’s architecture following Guattari’s fascination with his architectural machines in the 1980s. Drawing on two epistemological figures-the hasty sightseer and the slow ethnographer-the chapter demonstrates two different approaches to contemporary architecture. It is argued that ANT methodologies can help to create a space in which the past, present, and future are combined and are still in the process of becoming. Equipped with ANT-inspired methods, contemporary archaeologists can engage in explorations of vibrant processes and emergent world-making techniques.
Michael Brian Schiffer
This chapter develops and illustrates the concept of afterlife artefact, an important domain of modern material culture. A human that died or an artefact that lost functions or its integrity may have an afterlife. During the afterlife the original entity lives on in memories created and perpetuated by afterlife artefacts that represent, mimic, commemorate, allude to, or incorporate part of the original entity. The Great Eastern, an English steamship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was broken up in 1888. The ship has a rich afterlife, represented in many kinds of artefacts ranging from mouse pads to refrigerator magnets. A brief history is given of the Great Eastern’s interesting life, and its afterlife is illustrated by discussions of trading cards and postage stamps; both kinds are targeted at hobbyist collectors. The belief that postage stamps uniquely embody political ideology is debunked.
Stephen Trow and Jane Grenville
This article describes the complex and ever-changing institutional, legislative, and academic framework relating to the management of nature and culture in the English landscape. It highlights the current debate over future land use, which stems from the competing demands being placed upon it, particularly by agriculture, forestry, nature conservation, and archaeology. Under this, the article examines the interaction between the heritage and nature conservation sectors in the context of rural land use, particularly agriculture and forestry, drawing particularly on the situation in England. It also considers the institutional, legal, policy, and academic frameworks within which engagement takes place; the implications of policy changes driven by social, economic, and climatic change; and the increasingly radical debate on the future use of land. Finally, the article addresses the current attempts by archaeologists to respond to this agenda, the adequacy of the research base, and future challenges to achieving greater integration.
This chapter examines how the light yet strong metal aluminium shaped modern material cultures around practices and ideologies of speed and mobility. Aluminium-based light modernity became definitive of the twentieth century through both military air power and innovative civil applications, informing modernist visions of a streamlined future. The archaeology of metallic modernity opens up a space for thinking about the material remains that contemporary cultures of mobility have left on the Earth, and beyond, in outer space. By tracing the infiltration of this unique metal into the material cultures of modernity the chapter uncovers a layer of modern artefacts-buildings, aircraft, vehicles, appliances, satellites-that express a certain moment in human existence, and also express that period’s hopes for the future of humanity.
Hilary Allester Soderland
This article examines the importance of the first consolidating legislation on National Parks in the development of America's national heritage. It considers the ‘public’ in its focus on the legal regulation of United States archaeology and asserts the enduring significance of the 1916 legislation that created the National Park Service. Utilizing a legal-historical approach, the article explores the societal ideals, values, and sentiments critical in the law-making process of the 1916 National Park Organic Act, and subsequently situates these mores within the legal historiography of American archaeology. In so doing, it addresses the importance of the 1916 Act in expanding the legal regulation inaugurated by the 1906 Antiquities Act, thus providing a foundation from which subsequent regulatory measures were to be constructed, and in safeguarding an untold number of archaeological sites through the extraction of vast areas from the public domain.
This chapter explores the place of materials in contemporary anthropological research. Moving away from semiotic approaches to material culture, the focus is on the diverse ways in which the vitality of materials is invoked in different analytical traditions and diverse ethnographic settings. Phenomenological approaches to craft practice emphasize the intrinsic relationality and vitality of materials over and beyond the capacity of human intention to impose form. This celebration of the vital force of materials is contrasted to a darker and more explicitly material politics that emerges from contemporary studies of waste disposal and resource extraction where toxicity and deathly effects characterize the transformational force of material life. Anthropological investigations into material agency and the personhood of things also attend to the immaterial and affective dimensions of material relations and pose ontological questions about the social consequences of material life.
The Anthropology of Archaeology: The Benefits of Public Intervention at African-American Archaeological Sites
Cheryl Janifer LaRoche
Archaeology occupies an important place in historicizing the African American experience – principally where little historical evidence survives. The nature of African American archaeology is such that archaeologists are continually challenged by the unexpected and hampered by the unknown. These are the qualities of the field that alternately inflame and inspire the public. This article examines the constructive outcomes, lasting societal benefits, and enduring commemorative legacies that arise when individuals act collectively to define historical value and meaning through archaeology. Public intervention-shaped research and eventual outcomes at the four sites are discussed, namely: The President's House in Philadelphia; the Henrietta Marie; the Freedmen's Cemetery in Alexandria, VA; and New York City's African Burial Ground. For each site, the public has played a major role in reclamation, scholarly and public interpretation, and, finally, monumental recognition.
The recent expansion of the heritage sector is linked to developments of infrastructure, leading to developer-funded rescue archaeology, and cultural tourism, which shifted the public presentation of the past from museums to monuments in the landscape. This article sets out to critically analyse effects this has had on archaeological communities and research, which have become predominantly local and monolingual. These changes are linked to wider changes in society under postmodernism, known in archaeology as post-processualism. The heritage sector is bound to reflect these changes due to its ideological role as protector and manager of national heritage throughout the world. While this development has undoubtedly opened new doors to interpretation and public presentation, this article focuses on some of its unintended consequences. These changes are traced through time in an analysis of heritage terminology, followed by an analysis of the language of citations in international journals in some large and smaller countries in Europe.
Archaeologists are no strangers to the spaces and materialities of roads. The material cultures of prehistoric and Roman roads have provided an important focus for archaeological investigations, while modern road construction programmes have provided invaluable opportunities to conduct archaeological and geological investigations of sub-surface materials. In recent years, humanities and social science scholars have started to trace the material cultures and practices associated with the modern spaces of the car, road, and driving, and this chapter traces the outlines of what we might call an archaeology of modern automobility, discussing the findings of two research projects undertaken on the material cultures of automobility. Drawing upon research on the historical geographies of Britain’s M1 motorway the author examines how archaeological techniques (including field excavations) could provide an important complement to archival research in order to trace the design, construction, and use of such sites. In the second example, the chapter discusses a recent research project which attempted to write a cultural history and contemporary archaeology of the campaign for bilingual road signs in Wales. Drawing upon archival research, oral histories, and photographic research, the project reveals how the materiality of road signs was central to the motives behind-and effectiveness of-the campaign in 1960s and 1970s Wales.
The archaeological body is dead to us. Forensic studies of skeletal remains and studies where the body’s materials stand as a proxy for the body itself are the closest the discipline comes to the lived embodied experience. In archaeologies of the contemporary, however, sites are frequently characterized by their closeness to lived experience. The closeness and familiarity of the contemporary past lies precisely in our bodily experience of it, and the proximity to us of others for whom it is memory, part of life. In addressing the industrial/postindustrial transition, this chapter tracks influences on and of the body as the way we work has changed. It proposes a more careful consideration of the human body in contemporary archaeology, and conceives of the body as an archaeological site in its own right, in interdependent relationships with the non-corporeal matter of our archaeological studies.
This article explores the history of the changing relationships between archaeologists and metal-detector users in England and Wales, including the competing political strategies of both groups to influence public opinion and new legislation. It discusses some of the key issues and events, both historical and contemporary, as an overview and introduction to these varied, and arguably still-changing, relationships. The article begins with an introduction to the terms metal-detector user, nighthawk, and Treasure. Following this, it highlights some early concerns about heritage protection. The article then describes some reactions to and from the metal detecting hobby, and presents some conclusions from the works of archaeologists and metal-detector users. It concludes by encouraging archaeologists to maintain more positive and cooperative links with the metal-detecting community.
Dilip K. Chakrabarti
This article identifies the role of colonial and postcolonial influences on Indian archaeology and the problems for Indian archaeology thereby engendered. It addresses key issues in the history of archaeological heritage management. There is a major gap between the accepted norms of archaeological research and heritage management, and the ground-reality. One of the reasons why such a gap has come up is the indifference of the Indian educated class to archaeology. A good liberal education based on a respect for the country's past need not necessarily avert the tensions based on ethnicity and religion, which affect monuments. In countries where an overwhelming number of people live below the poverty line, such tensions are only likely to increase in future. Non-partisan voices of sanity are needed, and there is a better chance for such voices to emerge if there is a broad-based liberal system of historical education in the country.
The development of archaeology as a discipline, both in terms of its theoretical and philosophical foundations, and its methodological and practical frameworks, is discussed many times and from a number of perspectives. This article considers how archaeology in the Western world has become professionalized and what constitutes the archaeological profession. It focuses on the situation in Europe, North America, and Australasia. Archaeology is a global profession that shares many underlying tenets and ideals, although its application and deployment often have more regional aims and local characteristics. One key issue inextricably bound up with professionalization in archaeology is the matter of role specialization. Relationships between Indigenous people and archaeology are also a major strand running through archaeological practice, and the associated codes of practice and ethical principles, in Australasia. Much of the future development of the profession will probably hinge on the spread of specialization in archaeological work, responses to cultural diversity, pressures born of economic circumstances, and reactions to insights gained through the adoption of global perspectives.
The last decade of the twentieth century witnessed the forensic exhumation of human remains on an unprecedented scale. Drawn into what had previously been the terrain of forensic anthropology, archaeologists have been called on to deal with the large numbers of mass graves uncovered at multiple sites across the world. However, forensic archaeological or anthropological accounts have tended to remain outside of the frame of theoretical debate in archaeology. While forensic archaeology as a field is distinguished from forensic anthropology in the UK, in the US the term ‘forensic anthropology’ encompasses both specialisms. Additionally, the term ‘forensic’ is often used to cover a broad spectrum of archaeological interventions, many of which are not concerned with providing legal evidence. This article begins by looking at the complex relationship between the forensic role of archaeology in assembling evidence for judicial scrutiny, and its humanitarian focus in relation to funerary ritual and the return of human remains to families. It then discusses the scientific operations of archaeology as sense-making acts in the context of its location within mortuary practices more broadly.
Shannon Lee Dawdy
In the United States today, death is undergoing a rapid renovation. From an exponential increase in cremations to a proliferation of funeral options, ‘tradition’ no longer dictates how the dead are dealt with, nor remembered. One of the most notable trends is a proliferation in object-centred death practices, including votive offerings, designer coffins, object memorials, and grave-goods. This chapter briefly describes these phenomena and their possible historic, economic, and cultural conditions via snapshots of three quite distinct American cemeteries. While some observers explain these changes due to the influences of consumer demand and mass production, others note a more general trend towards unique and personalized memorials that eschew market standardization. The chapter argues that these are not necessarily contradictory explanations. In fact, American death practices, like death practices in ancient societies, are telling indicators of how personhood is conceived of in life.
Alice C. Gorman and Beth Laura O'Leary
The exploration of space is a Cold War phenomenon and is recent material culture which archaeologists do not routinely consider. Extending the archaeological gaze into space creates a new perspective of Earth: its cultural system which reaches into the solar system. This chapter provides a definition and discussion of space archaeology. The assemblage continues to grow especially in Earth’s orbit and on celestial bodies (e.g. Moon). All space objects exist within the cultural landscape of Earth’s multiple facilities such as launch sites, research facilities, etc. The landscape is designed, associative, and organically evolving. It is an extremely technological collection that includes in situ scientific experiments and satellites. Proveniences are complex. Artefacts can exist in relatively predictable orbits. Much of this archaeological record benefits from the benign effects of the space environment and its remoteness, but lie within a contested grey legal area in terms of its international preservation.
Archaeological archives are the cumulative finds, records, and associated data that result from a piece of archaeological fieldwork. This article deals almost entirely with the very specific circumstances of archives in the UK and primarily English museums. Archives should represent a prime research and heritage asset; and yet historically they have been under-resourced and underused. Efficient transfer of archives from fieldworker to repository and subsequent curation relies on close and clear working relationships between the museum or repository and the archaeologists working in their collecting areas. Debates about archaeological archives, which should be focusing on their value and use, are instead dominated by discussion of their sheer quantity and the storage and curation challenge this poses. The collecting areas for archives have particular importance. A more strategic approach by museum authorities to provide LAARC-type resource centres for material of real value would appear to remain the only logical way forward.