Seminars 2008

December 2008: Themes in Landscape Archaeology

From economic and political perspectives, landscapes provide resources, refuge and risks that both impel and impact on human actions and situations. Today, however, the most prominent notions of landscape emphasize its socio-symbolic dimensions: landscape is an entity that exists by virtue of its being perceived, experienced and contextualized by people.

November 2008: Ethnicity

“the whole conception of ethnic groups is so complex and so vague that it might be good to abandon it altogether.”

In this  seminar we aim to explore the issue of Ethnicity and its relevance to archaeology. Ethnicity is often used as a concept of both inclusiveness and exclusiveness. It has been used in the construction of political and cultural entities. Attempts to trace the movements of prehistoric ethnic groups were and important and influential aspect of early approaches to archaeology of many parts of the world including the Aegean. Yet there are no set criteria for the recognition of ethnicity.

In archaeology it is a contentious issue. There is continuing discomfort about its definition, and methodological application. Much of this has its roots in the problematic history of the concept and the easiness with which ethnic interpretations can be used. So what is an ethnic group? And is it a modern construct? Can it be identified through material culture, mythology, language and literary sources? Finally, is it a useful area of research for archaeology or should it be abandoned?

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