What does it mean to do good archaeological interpretation?

Some reflections for Cambridge University Press on how we might foster creative & critical interpretations of the archaeological record in the field…

Screenshot from Cambridge University Press of my blog post on doing good archaeological interpretation. The photo features some of our CONCH Project collaborators at Uzikwasa’s offices in Pangani, Tanzania, July 2018: http://www.conchproject.org

After the publication of my heritage interpretation article last month, I had the good fortune of being recommended by the Society for American Archaeology as ‘article of the month’. Yay! This has allowed me to publish a follow up blog post that elaborates on some of my argument (and responds to certain critiques). It’s also triggered a month of open access to the original journal article, which you can read or download here.

My blog post offers examples of some of the most inspiring work that I’ve been exposed to recently. Please read about it here, and if you have time to recommend other interesting and innovative examples of field-based interpretative experimentation, I’d be excited & grateful to hear from you!

I’d also like to acknowledge the following individuals who helped me to further think through aspects of my argument (although, of course, they are not responsible for the contents of my blog post!): Tessa Poller, Oliver Harris, John Swogger, Francesco Ripanti, Peter Dunn, James Dixon, Chris Walker, Bill Caraher and Harald Fredheim.

The enchantment of the archaeological record

A case for flipping archaeological practice around from a crisis-led model to an enchantment-led model…

I have the great fortune of presenting tomorrow at the European Association of Archaeologists’ annual conference, hosted this year in sunny Barcelona. I’m in an incredible session called Human, Posthuman, Transhuman Digital Archaeologies, featuring some of my heroes and professional inspirations (Friday 7 Sept, 14:00 – 18:30, Room: UB220, Hashtag:#S363). You can read many of their full papers online on Colleen’s website.

As it’s the culmination of many years of my thinking, I’m not able to circulate my 8000-word paper (it will hopefully be published in full very shortly). However I have tried to distil the argument into a few slides, copied below. In distilling the argument down so much, I’ve had to make a lot of generalising statements (a few of the most blatant of which are highlighted via *an asterisk). I do not claim there are no exceptions, and I am certainly not the first to put forward aspects of this argument. What I am hoping to do, however, is draw everything together into a workable model of practice that is not grounded in the discipline’s normative crisis mode of operation. This is my first attempt at articulating an enchantment model for archaeology.

While there are literally hundreds of people who have worked with me to refine these ideas, I need to explicitly acknowledge Katrina Gargett, Sierra McKinney, Sophia Mirashrafi and Angeliki Tzouganatou, whose research endeavours are allowing us to test some of this model in practice. I am indebted to you all.

I hope to see everyone in Barcelona or otherwise discuss these issues in other venues!

Sara Perry @archaeologistsp #1

Sara Perry @archaeologistsp #2

Sara Perry @archaeologistsp #3

Sara Perry @archaeologistsp #4

Sara Perry @archaeologistsp #5

Sara Perry @archaeologistsp #6

Sara Perry @archaeologistsp #7

Sara Perry @archaeologistsp #8

Why are heritage interpreters voiceless at the trowel’s edge?

This article calls for a rethinking of the traditional archaeological workflow, with a view to integrating the heritage interpretation tool kit and heritage interpreters themselves into our basic field methodologies.

Screen Shot 2018-08-03 at 10.15.49A quick note to say that, after years of working through some of the ideas that I first presented on this topic at the CAA conference in Siena, my article on heritage interpretation & the archaeological workflow has been published in Advances in Archaeological Practice. I am preparing a more extensive blog post about the argument for Cambridge University Press, which I’ll repost here in due course. In the meanwhile, you can download the full piece at the link below & your *constructive* critique is very much welcome. Thank you for your support, & thanks to the many people who provided input on the draft version of this article & on my teams’ efforts over the years!

Download the complete and open access full-text here: Perry_2018

Access the closed-access version on the journal’s webpages here.

The full bibliographic reference is: Perry, Sara (2018) Why Are Heritage Interpreters Voiceless at the Trowel’s Edge? A Plea for Rewriting the Archaeological Workflow. Advances in Archaeological Practice 6(3): 212-227.