• February 23, 2018
  • 161 East Pyne, Princeton University

Archaeology is a quest for ancient things, or, more specifically the material traces by which we may reconnect with ancestors (but whose?).  If philology privileges the logos itself as an object of love, archaeology puts its logos in the service of elucidating lives in the distant past.  As the phrase “material culture” makes explicit, texts are here further subordinated to matter molded and imprinted by human praxis.  How is this material practice related to epistemic discourses of archaeology? Prefaced by the adjective “classical,” the practice of archaeology brings these ancestral objects and ruins under the banner of classicism, raising the question: Whose lives and whose traces matter not only to the stories we tell about the past or even to the allocation of resources but also to the very promise of preservation? How (if at all) does classical archaeology differ from other archaeologies, and does the “classical” bring with it a distinctive method or form of materiality?

In this workshop, we aim to bring front and center questions that concern the theory, the practice, and the very idea of classical archaeology as it occupies a broader field of relations with notions of the ancestral, materiality and agency, and classicism.  How does classicism intersect with the figure of monumentality or beauty or historical significance or other figures that identify structures that deserve care?  How should care be articulated in relationship to differing structures of value, including those that have been implicated in postcolonialist critiques of classical archaeology and those that have been articulated more forcefully within the modern Greek context?  How should the relationships of those living among archaeological traces to these traces be weighted in interventions, evaluations, and analyses of this material?  Is the very investment in preservation (and curation) something that needs to be reevaluated?  Where do new forms of materialism intersect with political critique within archaeological practice?  How do they recast the power of archaeology and the study of material culture to effect a new materialism within classical studies more broadly?  How might the challenges—anthropological, axiological, museological, and political—that archaeology confronts with particular force occasion new forms of archaeological representation, theorization, and practice, and how might alliances between archaeology and art be especially effective in this regard?

These questions are not prescriptive but indications of the kind of work we’d like to undertake together.  The concept of the workshop is capacious by design, and our questions open-ended, in order to encourage interventions addressed to core theoretical and methodological issues that are often left implicit or sidelined.  The workshop will involve an interdisciplinary group that includes anthropologists, classicists, architectural theorists, artists, and ancient historians, in addition to classical archaeologists.

Photo: Christodoulos Panayiotou, “Mauvaises Herbes” (2015)

Organized by Joshua Billings, Brooke Holmes, and Dan-el Padilla Peralta (Princeton University)

Co-sponsored by the Department of Anthropology, the Department of Classics, the Department of Comparative Literature, the Department of English, the Department of German, the Humanities Council, the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities, the Program in the Ancient World, the Program in Archaeology, the Program in the History of Science, the Program in Medieval Studies, the Program in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies, with the support of the Stanley J. Seeger Hellenic Fund, and the University Center for Human Values



9:45-10:45: Session One
Giovanna Ceserani (Stanford): “Eighteenth-Century Travel Narratives and Classical Archaeology in Sicily: Material Culture, Representation and Identity”
Respondent: Josh Billings (Princeton)


11:00-1:00: Session Two
Mantha Zarmakoupi (Birmingham): “Doxiadis, the Delos Symposia, and Big Data”
Respondent: Nathan Arrington (Princeton)

Yannis Hamilakis (Brown): “A Multi-Temporal Archaeology: Sensoriality and the Ontology of Duration”
Respondent: Nino Luraghi (Princeton)


2:00-4:00: Session Three
Lisa Davis (Princeton): “Archaeological Intersections in Cyprus”
Respondent: Ava Shirazi (Princeton)

Lucia Allais (Princeton): “Architecture, Atomization, and Archaeology in Baalbek”
Respondent: Brooke Holmes (Princeton)


4:30-5:30: Session Four
Cathy Gere (UC San Diego): “Who Were the Greeks?”
Respondent: Dan-el Padilla Peralta (Princeton)

Final Discussion