History of archaeology @ 17th IUPPS World Congress (Burgos)

3 sessions were held at the 17th IUPPS World Congress, Burgos, Spain, 1-7 September 2014:

International relations in the history of archaeology

The Revolution of the Sixties in Prehistory and Protohistory

Organized by: Colin Renfrew, François Djindjian, Alessandro Guidi
The post second war period (1955-1975) has been a revolution in the history of Prehistory and Protohistory : new paradigms (“new archaeology”), advanced field techniques, new disciplines (Archeometry, Geoarchaeology, etc.) and major methodological and technical advances, which have diffused in the whole archaeological field. The colloquium has the purpose to remember this golden age and to replace it in the general context of the progress of Sciences.

Lobbying for Archaeology (18th-21st centuries). Innovative alliances in the establishment of the archaeological discipline

Organized by: Marc-Antoine Kaeser, Géraldine Delley
For several decades, historians of archaeology have demonstrated how this discipline was involved in the construction of colonial empires as well as in legitimating the main ideological and nationalistic trends of the 19th and 20th centuries. Nowadays however historians of archaeology should concentrate their attention on other forms of lobbying, more strictly economic and technical. It has been observed indeed that since the creation of modern states, archaeologists sometimes managed to gain the interest of non archaeological organs or institutions in order to establish flourishing alliances and to reinforce their own scientific practices – especially in the context of economical and structural upheavals.
Amongst varied cases of such “innovative alliances” we find for example:

  • archaeological excavations conducted by the Ponts et Chaussées engineers during the 18th Century, where the documentation of roman buildings was expected to improve the technique of the contemporary civil engineering sector;
  • the archaeology of the New Deal during the 1930’s in the USA, where archaeological (prospection and research) took advantage of unemployment programs;
  • the development of the radiocarbon dating method after WWII, when nuclear research tried to extend the scope of its civilian potential.

The session “Lobbying for archaeology” will focus on alliances concluded between archaeologists and powerful allies (state apparatus or well established institutions) or on cases where the mobilisation of such allies relies on practical motives (scientific skills, technical infrastructures or economic supports) to the exclusion of ideological motives. A particular interest will be given to examples of international relevance where such alliances authorised a structural and sustainable reinforcing of the discipline. Facing the new liberal order, in the present context of global economic crisis, we expect the historiographical analysis of such “innovative alliances” to contribute to the reflection on present and future modes of financing archaeological research.

History of archaeology @ 18th IUPPS World Congress (Paris)

5 sessions were held at the 18th IUPPS World Congress, Paris, France, 4-9 June 2018

Archaeology and interdisciplinarity, from the 19th century to present-day research

Organized by: Laura Coltofean, Géraldine Delley, Margarita Díaz-Andreu, Marc-Antoine Kaeser.
This session aims to break with the histories of archaeology that examine archaeology in isolation. A closer look towards the development of archaeology easily shows that archaeologists have always borrowed practices and methodologies from a wide array of other disciplines, from the purest sciences (physics, chemistry), to environmental sciences (geology, biology), and the humanities (history, art history and philology). Moreover, the establishment of the archaeological discipline itself can be considered as the outcome of the merging of different research traditions coming from both the natural sciences and the humanities. During the 19th and 20th centuries (and still today) these disciplines therefore intersected with archaeology at anthropological and archaeological congresses that were attended by encyclopaedic scholars specialising in various fields. These scientific events, the creation of interdisciplinary institutions and laboratories, as well as specific research projects and other scientific events, such as specialised courses, academic visits and communication through correspondence, contributed to the creation of an active and strong academic network facilitating the discussion and exchange of the latest practices, theories and discoveries. This session will explore the process of incorporating other disciplines into archaeology, the impact of these other disciplines on archaeological research and their reception among professionals, as well as the relationships they created between scholars.

The Decolonization of Asian Archaeologies

Organized by: Martijn Eickhoff.
In this session we aim to discuss the decolonization of Asian archaeologies from a historical perspective. In recent years historians of archaeology have developed relevant new understanding of the ways archaeology is intrinsically connected to colonialism and imperialism, often with the help of post-colonial theory. The role and position of archaeology in Asia during the Japanese ‘interregnum’ and the following decolonization however continues to be understudied. Acknowledging that within Asia the trajectories of decolonisation differ strongly, we question therefore during this session how Asian archaeologies decolonized by studying biographies of (different generations of) archaeologists, the development of archaeological institutions (museums, universities, monument acts) and interventions at archaeological sites. How was colonial archaeology re-appropriated in post-colonial contexts? Which role did or do inter-Asian organisations and trans-Asian ideologies play in this context? In this session we aim to define colonial archaeological legacies without falling into the trap of colonial determinism. We do this by recognizing that the biographies, institutions and sites involved are not necessarily defi by, nor necessarily a representation of colonialism, even if colonial relations played, or have played a crucial role in shaping or transforming them.

From stratigraphy to stratigraphic excavation in pre- and protohistoric archaeology

Organized by: Alessandro Guidi, Massimo Tarantini.
Stratigraphic excavation is the cornerstone of archaeology; yet scholars have still not attempted a detailed and comparative historical examination of its effective achievement. We are not referring to the acknowledgement of an effective need to place archaeological material in a stratigraphic framework (accomplished in prehistory in the mid-19th century), but rather to the effective establishment of stratigraphy as a key factor in archaeological excavation, an innovation that we can date to the beginning of the 20th century.
The transition from a mere recognition of stratigraphy to the practice of stratigraphic excavation can be analyzed from various points of view:

  • A practical dimension, concerning how an archaeological excavation is conducted. A stratigraphic excavation requires the presence of an archaeologist in the field, and it is well known that for many years this presence lacked continuity and mostly concerned the supervision of specialized workers. When can we say that archaeologists effectively began to excavate in person? Was the process favored by new administrative conditions, or was it the consequence of a new methodological awareness?
  • A theoretical dimension. From the beginning the attribution of archaeological finds to a stratum was a method of relative chronology and, at the same time, the main way to reconstruct the connection between artifacts. Today we know that archaeological strata can provide information of their own, and that the horizontal distribution of the archaeological materials is just as important as their vertical distribution. To what extent did the progressive awareness of these (or other) factors determine the definitive affirmation of an effectively stratigraphic method of excavation?
  • The context of the effective realization of the stratigraphic practice. Can different methods of excavation and recording of stratigraphy be detected in settlements, caves, and burials? If so, are there relationships between these different methods?
  • Last but not least, the relationship between different fields of study. Normally we think of a sort of linear evolution from geology to prehistory, and from prehistory to other archaeologies. As a matter of fact, the process was not so linear. If geology is considered as the “cradle” of stratigraphy, what kind of excavation practice did it inspire? And to what extent was it involved in the subsequent developments of archaeological excavation? Were other disciplines, starting with the other archaeologies, involved in the definitive affirmation of the stratigraphic excavation in prehistory?
    We invite all interested scholars to debate these themes, without geographical limitations; we are interested in developments all over the world. The focus is on a chronological range between the mid-19th and mid-20th century.

Epistemology, History and Philosophy of Science: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the History of Archaeology

Organized by: Sophie A. De Beaune, Marc-Antoine Kaeser, Oscar Moro Abadia.
Over the past 25 years, archaeologists have shifted from rejecting and trivializing the history of archaeology (traditionally considered a harmless amusement for their leisure hours) to considering that this discipline plays a major role in the understanding of archaeological research. This revalorization has been spurred by the emergence of a new generation of scholars who have met modern historiographical standards and practices. In this setting, historians of archaeology have benefit a great deal from a growing dialogue with historians, philosophers and sociologists of science. It is not by chance, for instance, that most of the French-speaking historians who have played a role in the reinvigoration of the history of archaeology in the last two decades are historians and epistemologists of science. However, there are still few studies on the many epistemological, philosophical and sociological facets of archaeological knowledge. In this setting, this panel seeks to explore the relationships between the history of archaeology and other disciplines, include history, epistemology and sociology of science. In the first place, we will invite historians of archaeology and historians of other sciences to critically think about the relationships between their disciplines. This dialogue seeks to explore how historians of archaeology can enrich their work with a better understanding of the methods, techniques and concepts used in the history of science. In the second place, we seek to promote an interdisciplinary dialogue beyond the limits of historiographical studies. To do so, we will invite specialists in the epistemology and philosophy of science to consider how recent debates on their disciplines may intersect with the study of the history of archaeological knowledge.

Les archéologues victimes des régimes politiques, des idéologies et des religions : censure et répression

Organized by: François Djindjian.
The purpose of this session is to give accurate and documented historiographical of political systems, ideologies and religions that have, in the past, prevented archaeologists to do their work by various means: execution, prison, exile, loss of employment, censorship, etc.

Historical Studies of Pre&Protohistoric Archeology

This blog presents the “History of Archaeology” commission of the International Union of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences (IUPPS). News about its research activities (meetings, conferences, members’ publications) are published, as well as more general information regarding the history of archaeology field of research.