ArticlePDF Available

Giving Voices (Without Words) to Prehistoric People: Glimpses into an Archaeologist's Imagination


Abstract and Figures

This article describes a path to addressing the discomfort that I and many of my braver colleagues have had, when putting words into the mouths and heads of prehistoric actors, knowing that these words say more about us than they do about prehistory. Yet without such speech, how are we archaeologists and the broader public to imagine the intangibles of the deep past (emotions, affect, gender, senses)? Moreover, such words create a misleading certainty that conceals the ambiguities of the archaeological data. Are there alternative options to verbal and vocal clarity when creating imagined fictive narratives about the past? With inspiration from composer Györgi Ligeti, from linguists and experimental psychologists, and from ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) performers, I explore the emotive power of vocal non-verbal interjections and utterances that have more universality and less cultural baggage, using them in three diverse re-mediations of digital media from three prehistoric archaeological contexts in Europe and Anatolia.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Giving Voices (Without Words) to
Prehistoric People: Glimpses into an
Archaeologists Imagination
Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, USA
This article describes a path to addressing the discomfort that I and many of my braver colleagues have
had, when putting words into the mouths and heads of prehistoric actors, knowing that these words say
more about us than they do about prehistory. Yet without such speech, how are we archaeologists and the
broader public to imagine the intangibles of the deep past (emotions, affect, gender, senses)? Moreover,
such words create a misleading certainty that conceals the ambiguities of the archaeological data. Are
there alternative options to verbal and vocal clarity when creating imagined fictive narratives about
the past? With inspiration from composer Györgi Ligeti, from linguists and experimental psychologists,
and from ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) performers, I explore the emotive power of
vocal non-verbal interjections and utterances that have more universality and less cultural baggage,
using them in three diverse re-mediations of digital media from three prehistoric archaeological contexts
in Europe and Anatolia.
Keywords: non-verbal vocalization, digital storytelling, Neolithic, narrative, fiction, emotion
I and many of my braver colleagues have
attempted to put words into the mouths
of prehistoric (and historic) actors,
knowing that these words say more about
us than they do about prehistory. Yet such
imagined voices enhance the emotive
power of stories about the past. Without
speech, how are we archaeologists and the
broader public to imagine the intangibles
of the deep past (emotions, affect, gender,
senses)? Nevertheless, such words present
a challenge that has long preoccupied me
about on- and off-screen interpretations of
archaeological data of the deep and
shallow past. Moreover, I believe that such
words create a misleading certainty that
conceals the ambiguities of archaeological
data. This presentation is about an
exploration of alternative options to verbal
and vocal clarity when creating imagined
narratives about the past. The key,
I found, is to think laterally from the
apparently straightforward arrow of arch-
aeological investigation.
The argument that storytelling enhances
the emotive engagement of audiences in
their installations has become increasingly
popular in heritage sitesparks, museums
since the early 2000sas well as excava-
tions. At the same time, creatively ima-
gined narratives are becoming more
mainstream in the interpretation of arch-
aeological material remains (Joyce, 2002;
Van Dyke & Bernbeck, 2015). Coupled
European Journal of Archaeology 2019, page 1 of 16
Copyright ©European Association of Archaeologists 2019 doi:10.1017/eaa.2019.20
Manuscript received 12 December 2018,
accepted 26 March 2019, revised 26 February 2019
Downloaded from IP address:, on 12 May 2019 at 22:31:40, subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at
with this is the power of such stories to
enable a larger audience to encounter the
intangibles of human life in the past: emo-
tions, affect, gender, senses, queerness,
and so on. Such intangibles have become
legitimate subjects of investigation along-
side the tangibles of archaeological empir-
ical data (Tarlow, 2012; Hamilakis, 2013;
Tringham & Danis, in press).
Much storytelling of the past involves
putting words into the mouths of long
dead peoplegiving them a voice. Having
been in the middle of such a practice, I
would be the last to deny the emotive
power of such stories, especially if the
archaeological or documentary empirical
sources that form their foundation are
made transparent (Pollock, 2015).
Nevertheless, I must confess that, whether
they are having a conversation with me, or
leading me to the interiors of their heads,
or speaking through a third person, the
voicesas represented on screen or in
printed text have always been as deeply
problematic as the clear visual representa-
tions of their faces. In my first attempt at
creating prehistoric voices, How to End the
Use-life of a House (Tringham, 1991), I
liked that story but understood it as saying
more about me than about Baba the Fire
Setter. I felt its writing to be more as a
creative poetic act than a conscious
attempt to represent a woman burning a
house. Roussou and colleagues from the
EMOTIVE project have made an import-
ant point that Storytelling can be a
powerful tool but that not all stories are
effective in communicating the messages
they set out to convey and to grasp and
hold their audiences attention(Roussou
et al., 2017: 407). This point is reiterated
in some of the chapters in the edited col-
lection Subjects and Narratives (Van Dyke
& Bernbeck, 2015, e.g. Thomas, 2015),
reminding us that because we are close to
the material and events of the story does
not mean it will be well written, let alone
affective or compelling.
There are many expert practical guidelines
on how to make a story more compelling.
One of these is by Sheila Bernard (2007),
whose words provide important recom-
mendations for anyone creating stories
about the past who wishes to make their
audiences transparently aware of the ambi-
guity of archaeological data and their
interpretation. She suggests (Bernard,
2007: chapter 4) that you allow the reader
or audience to participate with their minds
and keep exposition light and subtle, with
room to think and imagine. In this way,
the imagination of the audience (and
therefore their emotive response) is not
smothered, but is, rather, inspired. Most
importantly, in such stories, space is pro-
vided for the enormous and wonderful
ambiguity of archaeological data to enter
into the narrative (Gero, 2007; Sørensen,
2016). To explore and share the ambiguity
of the past means embracing comfortably
a plurality of interpretations of the data,
making transparent the workflow of data
collection and documentation, making
clear the path from data to interpretation,
and recognizing a multitude of voices,
emotions, and senses through which the
past is experienced.
In listing some of the requirements of
celebrating ambiguity, three aspects of the
enterprise emerge as relevant to this
.First, in addition to the celebration of
ambiguity being an underlying aspect of
the feminist practice of archaeology
(Wylie, 2007), it is also very much at
the heart of a post-humanist and
new-materialist attitude that blurs the
conventional boundaries between real,
2European Journal of Archaeology 2019
Downloaded from IP address:, on 12 May 2019 at 22:31:40, subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at
unreal, and virtual (Yalouri, 2018; Mol,
in prep), between human and non-
human species (Haraway, 2008), and
between animate and inanimate subjects
(Domanska, 2018; Yalouri, 2018; Mol,
in prep) that releases us from the con-
ventions of linear discursive text in
order to encourage the representation of
ambiguities in non-discursive multi-
modal formats (Barad 2003; Murray,
.Second, a certain playfulness (even
irony) enters into the creation of post-
humanist archaeological interpretations
of the past that requires a willingness to
accept this on the part of the audience
and academic colleagues. This means
that experiments in form and content
need to be taken seriously as inspiring
curiosity and creativity rather than as
(or in addition to) steps in testing and
evaluating hypotheses or scenarios.
Non-linear lateral thinking and non-
discursive symbolization, in challenging
conventional scientificallylogical paths
of investigation, are not wild specula-
tion; they can inspire alternative scen-
arios, provide a portal to many different
(prehistoric) ways of sensing the world
(such as enabling people to become
animals, baskets to vocalize, and houses
to feel pain and euphoria, see below)
(Haraway, 2008; Domanska, 2018).
.Third, I have recognized since the
1990s (and as others have elegantly
pointed out: Landow, 1992; Bolter &
Grusin, 1999; Douglas, 2001) that the
greatest potential of digital screen-based
technology in publication is not as a
replacement or simulacrum of printed
and analogue publication, but as a way
of producing quite different forms of
knowledge and quite different ways of
sharing. This is multimodal, involving
any combination, as equal partners, of
visual and audio exhibits, storytelling
through videos, presentations, blogs,
databases, gamification, live perform-
ance, and text, in what have been
referred to as multimodal compositions
(Murray, 2012), database narratives
(Manovich, 2001; Luers, 2013), recom-
binant histories (Anderson, 2011), and
even serious games (Champion, 2015).
What characterizes these digital publi-
cation formats is that they are immedi-
ately accessible to a public beyond the
world of academia, can be shared and
commented on according to the
authorssharing protocols, are open-
ended and modifiable, and none of
them can be reproduced in print
format. It is an ideal medium for the
representation of the ambiguous nature
of archaeological data. The technology
allows archaeological practitioners to
demystify the process of archaeological
interpretation by embedding both
source data and knowledge-production
process in (or linked to) the interpretive
representation. In creating my own
database narrative or recombinant
history (Joyce & Tringham, 2007;
Tringham, 2015a), I have essentially
used the technology to mediate the raw
data of my research, to guide readers
through the morass of my own imagin-
ation and its sources to reach my inter-
pretations. In this way, the path to my
imagination is not ambiguous (if my
memory is clear). What is ambiguous is
the nature of the quest for the unresolv-
able resolution of the interpretation as
some kind of reality or truth about the
Digital formats of the kind listed above
are the only way to represent our interpre-
tations of the world, dreams, memories,
emotions, and senses as experienced in the
Tringham Giving Voices (Without Words) to Prehistoric People 3
Downloaded from IP address:, on 12 May 2019 at 22:31:40, subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at
dark phenomenology(Mol, in prep)of
prehistory. In spite of this, as Erik
Champion notes, Many virtual environ-
ments have aimed for realism rather than
for meaningful interaction. Yet this may
not be the most effective means of educat-
ing and engaging the public(Champion,
2011: 131).
One way to achieve the suspension of
disbelief is to envision the past as remem-
bered by the various actors, rather than
trying to envisage their past as lived:
If we do this, then we have a very dif-
ferent aim in our imaging of the past.
Instead of presenting the past as a real
(or Virtually Real) lived-in linear past
that is experienced normatively by all
actors, we can present a past that is a
dream or memory, remembered piece-
meal, selectively, and uniquely by the
different actors. In this way the prehis-
tory that we construct and the multiple
histories that we express, through com-
puter-generated imagery and other
media, can be regarded as more surreal
than virtually real.(Joyce & Tringham
2007: 341)
Surreality is achieved through surprises,
such as unexpected juxtapositioning; or by
fragmentation, whereby, for example, a
complete room is only seen through the
lens of its corner or a piece of furniture; or
a person or animal is seen as a single eye;
or a sound emerges out of an apparently
inanimate object, and a story that is more
poem than narrative. In writing this I have
echoed the sentiments of Steve Anderson:
Put bluntly, the most interesting histor-
ies are those in which the past is funda-
mentally understood as a field of
discursive struggle a text that is open to
revision and debate rather than one deli-
vering safe narrative closureUnder
certain circumstances, historiography also
offers a means of escape into fantasy, an
alternate form of mythology or the
expression of cultural needs and desires.
(Anderson, 2011:15)
There have been a few experimental
digital visualizations that explore archaeo-
logical interpretations and achieve a
certain suspension of disbelief with the
help of visual effects (see, for example,
Alice Wattersons Digital Dwelling
described below, and the very interesting
projects described in Yalouri, 2018).
Despite visual effects, there is something
that still prevents the full suspension of
disbelief in the fictionally constructed nar-
ratives of the past, even by commercial
film-makers. I think that much of the
problem in creating compelling and
emotive stories for both archaeologists and
full-time professional authors lies with the
prehistoric voices themselves, with their
conversations or thoughts. With speech
there has been virtually no experimenta-
tion (but see Simon Thornes soundscape,
Neanderthal, or William Goldings 1955
novel, The Inheritors). Communication is
represented in familiar (to us) patterns of
discursive speech, in structured sentences
that make their meaning clear and unam-
biguous. Being mostly plot-focused rather
than focused on the development of char-
acters, conversation revolves around events
and information rather than idle banter or
fillerswhat have been called empty
speechand speech disfluencies’—that fill
most everyday conversations and pass
commentary on sensorial experiences of
everyday life in non-discursive rhetoric
(Murray, 2009).
Are there alternative options to giving
voices to the past actors that do not involve
clear speech with all its presentist implica-
tions, options that involve less clear, more
ambiguous vocalizations but can neverthe-
less be emotionally compelling and mean-
ingful? Joddy Murray has suggested that
the evolution of the privileged status of dis-
cursive rhetoric was closely associated with
4European Journal of Archaeology 2019
Downloaded from IP address:, on 12 May 2019 at 22:31:40, subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at
the development of printed text and logical
positivism, pushing the more affective,
non-discursive rhetoric into the shadows
(Murray, 2009: 12). His view of meaning-
making necessitates and values all that our
symbolsthough especially image
[Murrays preference, not mine]can do:
affectivity, circularity, ambiguity, incongru-
ity, and ineffability, in other words that
non-discursive rhetoric is to be given equal
opportunity in our representational
systems. I can add, moreover, that, on the
one hand, non-discursive rhetoric is
allowed to reach its full potential through
nurturing the possibilities of digital tech-
nologies, and, on the other hand, that the
current increase in the primacy of non-dis-
cursive rhetoric has been a direct result of
the increased role of digital formats of pub-
lication in our world, along with a parallel
trend against modernity, especially since
the early 1990s. Murrays view of a more
comprehensive attention to the way we
communicate and make meaning is mir-
rored in his idea of composingmultimodal
digital and performance works that break
down the traditional boundaries between
archaeology and art (Murray, 2012). The
idea of moving away from textual represen-
tation to a more performative, practice-
based, entangled storytelling resonates, I
believe, quite strongly with what I propose
When I first started to struggle with the
problem of prehistoric speech (1994: Baba
in the Chimera Web, now sadly in the
Dead Web, but see Joyce & Tringham,
2007), I thought of trying to fill Babas
head with the earliest colloquial speech
that I knew about in south-eastern
Europe, using the argot of Aristophanes
plays that he created in the fifth century
BC as a model; but I rejected that idea
since there was still a distance of five
thousand years separating the historic
from the prehistoric residents. And there I
accepted the problem and continued to
put English words into the mouths and
heads of prehistoric people; until I heard
György LigetisAventures as a live per-
formance at Sound Box in San Francisco
on 6 April 2018 (see notes at http://
Aventures is an 11-minute opera without
words; scored for a few instrumentalists
and three singers, each of whom plays five
roles simultaneously, acting out a scenario
involving five emotional statesin which
they shriek, grunt, laugh, breathe loudly,
whisper, murmur, and otherwise create all
sorts of curious sounds along with an
extraordinary text. Ligeti wants to write
for voices without having to subordinate
himself to a pre-existing text By his
own account, he attempts to create a text
in an imaginary language he lets the
syllables fall apart in separate vowels or
consonants until every reminiscence of
words is entirely lost(Beyst, 2003). His
singers accompany the vocals with physical
gestures that endorse and emphasize the
sounds, enhancing the emotional power of
the piece when seen in live or on-screen
Most attention to non-verbal emotional
expressions have focused on facial expres-
sion, starting with Darwins(1872) study.
But, as was pointed out by Emiliana
Simon-Thomas and colleagues (2009:838),
Nearly half of Darwins descriptions of the
nonverbal correlates of over 40 emotion-
related states include references to specific
para-linguistic vocalizations—“snortsof
or watch the film 2001: A Space Odyssey for which
Stanley Kubrick used Ligetis music (including a modi-
fied version of Aventures) all without Ligetis knowledge
or permission.
Tringham Giving Voices (Without Words) to Prehistoric People 5
Downloaded from IP address:, on 12 May 2019 at 22:31:40, subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at
contempt, little coughsof embarrassment,
air sucksof high spirits, and deep sighs
of grief.
At the heart of Ligetis work is his
focus on what the structural linguist
Ferdinand de Saussure termed parole, the
utterances of everyday speech. For de
Saussure and other structuralists such
utterances were not part of the system of
meaningful sounds by which substantive
information is conveyed they count as
marginal features of language and might
affect the expressive (emotional) quality of
a message but not its basic meaning
(Gumperz, 1982: 12). Which is precisely
why linguistic anthropologist John
Gumperz, composer Ligeti, and I (for my
experiments below) are interested in them.
Included in the parole list are the inton-
ation and rhythm of speech (prosody), as
well as empty speech,
throwaway com-
ments (Lovely weather today),speech
fillers (know what I mean?),speech dis-
fluencies (right, right; really; oooh, I
know), and wordless emotional vocaliza-
tions (laughter, aaagh, eeek, ooo, oooh).
Beyond John Gumperz, an interest in
non-verbal interjections was not empiric-
ally investigated until taken up in experi-
ments by linguists and psychologists in the
1990s (Ameka, 1992). In an introduction
to a special issue on linguistic interjections
in the Journal of Pragmatics published in
1992, linguist Felix Ameka defined inter-
jections as vocal gestures which express a
speakers mental state, action or attitude or
reaction to a situation(Ameka, 1992:
104). He categorized interjections based
on the specific communicative functions
they fulfill (Ameka, 1992: 113): 1) expres-
sive, focusing on the speakers mental state
(emotive or cognitive); 2) conative, expres-
sing the speakers wishes vis-à-vis a
listener; and 3) phatic, which maintain or
establish connection with other speakers/
listeners (see Figure 1). The linguist Cliff
Goddard (2014: fig. 1), on the other
hand, categorized such interjections on the
basis of their proximity to clear text (iden-
tical to words, e.g. shit!;orword-like,e.
g. Wow!,Yuck) or distance from it
(noise-like, e.g. Ugh,Sh). Either way,
such interjections are clearly likely to be
culturally specific and therefore not
entirely devoid of the same problems of
presentism as the clearer text, but, I
believe, to a much less disturbing degree,
since the words themselves are not sup-
posed to make any sense, but meaning is
conveyed by their rhythm and tone
Experimental psychologists from the
early 2000s focused on non-verbal voca-
lized utterances (including Goddards
noise-like interjectionsand vocal bursts
such as laughter, sighs, and screams) that
signalled emotional status, thus moving
away from linguistics and semantics
towards the vocal mirror of facial expres-
sion of emotions, as started by Darwin
(Simon-Thomas et al., 2009; Sauter et al.,
2010a). Researchers in a recent study of
this genre have created an interactive
acoustic map visualizing human vocaliza-
tion of emotions that is based on a system-
atically collected set of recordings of
English speakers (Cowen et al., 2018; his
interactive map is available at https://s3-us-
Sauter and colleagues (2010b) also report
on a study of the significance of acoustic
properties of different emotional utterances
that facilitate their identification by listen-
ers. Their study, however, was based on a
globally diverse set of language speakers.
What this team has explicitly shown
(Sauter et al., 2010a), and which is signifi-
cant for this article, is that some of these
vocal bursts (e.g. laughter, screams) can be
shown empirically to be more basic
2 A great example is British comedian Stanley
Unwin, the Gobbledegook person: https://www.
6European Journal of Archaeology 2019
Downloaded from IP address:, on 12 May 2019 at 22:31:40, subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at
evolutionarily, or cross-culturally universal,
than others which are more variable and
culture- (or language-) specific (such as
utterances resulting from achievement or
sensual pleasure). Sauter and team do not
go so far as to suggest that the same acous-
tic properties would also affect prehistoric
listeners, but it does give food for thought.
This gives me the cue to (almost legitim-
ately) use some of the more universal vocal
bursts in the mouths of prehistoric actors
in on-screen (digital) constructions of
the past that could inspire empathetic
emotive responses in a modern audience. If
it can be done with Neanderthals (Simon
2009), why not with the Neolithic (Mithen,
The performance artist, Lucy Clout,
echoes this focus when she confesses that
her interest in speech disfluencies isnt
necessarily because of their opposition to
literal meaning but because they are a
different part of language, one which acts
as context, intimacy and also, importantly,
as an assertion of subjective presence
this kind of emptyspeech still performs
a function It isnt about creating a text
but about another effect(interview of
Lucy Clout by the editor of Frieze maga-
zine, Amy Sherlock:
article/focus-interview-lucy-clout). Lucy
Clouts videos lead into the idea of this
different part of languageas being tactile
speech; her interviewer, Amy Sherlock,
describes it as speech as a gesture, as
something embodied, which is sensed or
felt as well as literally understood .
Tactile speech is the basis of Autonomous
Sensory Meridian Response (or ASMR).
A second source of inspiration for this
article is Autonomous Sensory Meridian
Figure 1. A categorization of vocal interjections, based on a speakers mental state, action or attitude
or reaction to a situation(after Ameka, 1992: 113).
Tringham Giving Voices (Without Words) to Prehistoric People 7
Downloaded from IP address:, on 12 May 2019 at 22:31:40, subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at
Response (ASMR) to audio-visual on-
screen performances, as a means to evoke
an emotive response of audiences to our
constructions of the past and interpreta-
tions of archaeological and heritage places.
The passionate and adrenaline-laced
emotional responses that are evoked by
on-screen and live performances of music,
video games, and theatre are global and
familiar phenomena. For example, some
music (for me, the final Aufstehenin
Mahlers Symphony no. 2) and some
environmental events (such as witnessing a
bubble-net feed by a pod of humpback
whales) will trigger an emotion of awe and
high excitement, accompanied by physio-
logical auto-responses such as aesthetic
chills(goose-bumps), tears, increased
heart rate, breathing rate, and skin con-
ductance (blushing). But triggering such
responses are generally not explicitly part
of the repertoire of interpretive installa-
tions in museum and heritage digital or
analogue contexts. Nor for that matter are
they expected as a result of reading stories
about prehistoric events.
Attempts at manipulating emotional
responses are, however, already incorpo-
rated into heritage and archaeological on-
screen and live installations. For example,
background music is added to videos
(Watterson, 2014), video games, and 3D
virtual worlds that bears no direct relation
to the content of the installation but is
created to trigger emotions. More recently,
the triggering of an emotional response
has formed the backbone of the serious
design of heritage and museum installa-
tions, for example through the CHESS
project (Katifori et al., 2016) and the
Storytelling for Cultural Heritage
project (Perry, 2019). In the latter project,
Sara Perry asks such questions as: What
kind of emotional response to our stories
are we, as creators, hoping for? Are we
hoping for a feeling of satisfaction, even
enchantment, or are we hoping for dis-
comfort, even anger, or a desire to ques-
tion authority? Although I am sure there
are exceptions, prehistoric and historic
narratives do not generally cause their
audiences to leave their emotional comfort
zone. But why would passionate, intense,
emotional engagement in a story about the
past and archaeology not be beneficial in
these or other contexts? I was interested in
exploring this possibility by putting aside
background music and dramatized acting
and, instead, exploring whether the image
and sound from the archaeological and
heritage data themselves could be used to
create such emotional triggers.
ASMR is a warm, tingling, and pleasant
sensation accompanied by feelings of calm
and well-being. It is triggered by a combin-
ation of close encounters with whisperings
in your ear (through binaural recording),
close-up visuals, and sounds of slow, repeti-
tive contact of hands with materials (includ-
ing tapping and scratching) and an intense,
close attention on the viewer. Many
thousands of videos are made and watched
on the Internet, used as calming- and sleep-
aids (e.g. work by the ASMR artist/
performer RED:
user/WhispersRedASMR). Scientific studies
show that the body does respond to
them physiologically with both calming
and high excitement emotions (Poerio,
Although not everyone responds in this
way to ASMR triggers, there are some
aspects of ASMR videos that I wanted to
experimentally hijack in order to enhance
the multisensorial and emotive content of
my wordless digital and multimodal
stories. Amongst these are the sounds and
visuals of repetitive tasks and movements
of archaeology and the prehistoric house-
hold, the viewpoint of close proximity that
creates a virtual sense of touch, and the
intimacy of (in my preference and unlike
classicASMR) unclear, disfluent, low-
8European Journal of Archaeology 2019
Downloaded from IP address:, on 12 May 2019 at 22:31:40, subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at
volume sounds of social communication
created by in-ear binaural recordings. Each
of these aspects can make a significant
contribution to a narrative of ambiguity to
evoke the multisensorial experience of the
prehistoric world of the archaeologists
So how do we put these multisensorial
emotive evocations into practice? After my
feminist archaeology awakening with the
faceless blobsepisode in 1988
(Tringham, 1991) that coincided with a
certain amount of creative empowerment
in the development of consumer software,
I was eager to explore the potential of
digital technologies to make transparent
how we, as archaeologists, construct a past
from our empirical data and from our ima-
ginations that is full of dynamic human
beings going about their daily and some-
times extraordinary tasks, moving con-
stantly, conversing, thinking, dreaming,
having lives, emotions, and personalities. I
immersed myself in the possibilities of
digital formats, such as hypermedia (in
1994), in order to ease the constraints of
publication as printed long-form text.
However, what I imagined could be
done with digital resources did not always
coincide with what could actually be done
at the time, either because the technology
was not yet accessible to a consumer, or
because I did not have the technological
skills to make it happen, or, as was more
frequent, both. The three short experi-
mental demonstrations that follow, to a
large extent, have their origins in those
early adoptertrials (e.g. the Chimera
Web). I use various non-discursive, multi-
modal, electronic tricks to express ambigu-
ity and (I hope) engender an emotional,
even multisensorial, response, such as
focusing on a close-up view, but fogging
the specifics and clarity of both visuals and
words; by embodying the verbal narrative
so that meaning, emotion and message is
expressed by gesture, rhythm, and tone of
voice rather than clear words and sentence
structure; and by introducing constant
repetitive, archaeologically repetitive,
sounds in the background, which may be
annoying at first, but which are eventually
rendered inaudible and ultimately subver-
sively comforting through habituation.
Figure 2. Screenshot of Digital Dwelling Ligetized(re-mediated by Ruth Tringham from
A. Watterson et al., Digital Dwelling at Skara Brae, 2013,
Tringham Giving Voices (Without Words) to Prehistoric People 9
Downloaded from IP address:, on 12 May 2019 at 22:31:40, subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at
1) Alice WattersonsDigital Dwelling
Ligetized(see Figure 2)
Because Alice Watterson has been think-
ing critically about the ambiguity of arch-
aeological data and visualization of their
interpretation (Watterson, 2015), I feel
comfortable in taking the liberty of
manipulating her own video that is based
on her project Digital Dwelling at Skara
Brae (Watterson, 2014). I very much
appreciate Alices willingness to allow the
publication of this re-mediatedversion of
hers and Kieran Baxters original work.
The video comprises part of her tour
through the underground prehistoric
village of Skara Brae on Orkney, where we
begin to pass through an ambiguous cave-
like sequence and end up in what is visu-
ally almost an ASMR video (Digital
Dwelling at Skara Brae: https://vimeo.
com/66396373). The foggy visuals are
accompanied by a music score that does
not (for me) enhance the presentation. So,
I have added a rather different soundtrack
inspired by Györgi LigetisAventures
(Digital Dwelling at Skara Brae Ligetized: Having
read the original feedback from viewers of
Digital Dwelling (Watterson, 2014), it
would be interesting to compare it with
feedback from the Ligetizedversion.
2) Elaborating my earliest prehistoric
story (see Figure 3)
HowtoEndtheUse-lifeofaHousewas my
first adventure into the world of fictionalized
prehistoric narrative (Tringham, 1991). It is
houses excavated in the 1980s at the 6000-
year old Neolithic site of Opovo-Ugar
Bajbuk in Serbia, as having been intention-
ally burned down in a ritualized house or
household end-of-life ceremony. I wrote the
story in a burst of words as I crossed the Bay
Bridge in San Francisco, as a series of
Figure 3. Screenshot of mini-movies Opovo Fire Story (©Ruth Tringham 2018).
10 European Journal of Archaeology 2019
Downloaded from IP address:, on 12 May 2019 at 22:31:40, subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at
thoughts inside the head of the woman
burning her house down; she is not really
thinking about the burning task, but laterally
about other small things and annoying
family members. In this multimodal on-
screen version, as an alternative to the
written words of the original story
representing her thoughts, I have provided a
non-musical, non-verbal, but vocalized
soundtrack. This is not a substitute for the
original text, but it is composed from a dif-
ferent perspective on the same story, the
viewpoint of the house itself that is being
burned. Three tiny films can be viewed in
Figure 4. Excerpted textual narrative of Dido and the Basket (Tringham, 2015b).
Tringham Giving Voices (Without Words) to Prehistoric People 11
Downloaded from IP address:, on 12 May 2019 at 22:31:40, subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at
any sequence, each of which might evoke a
different response intellectually and/or emo-
tionally: House Burning (
305896243) tells of the burning of the house
itself, which appears not to feel pain but is
delighted by the event and attempts to com-
municate this to the people outside who are
setting it alight; in From Fire To Sleep
and collapsed house is being helped to
prepare for its 6000-year sleep; and Rebirth
and Afterlife after 6000 years (https://vimeo.
com/312622169) evokes the house being
awoken, reborn, after 6000 years by archae-
ologists excavating the burned remains; after
a short, exciting, and pleasurable participa-
tion in excavation and examination of its
burned rubble remains, the awoken house
goes back to sleep (and a different afterlife).
In these movies (as in the original Chimera
Web), I have used computerized imagery
not to reconstruct what I think Opovo
looked likein its original form, but to con-
struct multiple realities of Opovospast,all
of which are explicit illusions, but all of
which are based on the material parameters
that are founded empirically in the archaeo-
logical, architectural and other data(Joyce
& Tringham, 2007: 342).
3) Dido and the Basket
This experimental project is an adaptation
of a recent chapter in an edited print book,
Object Stories (Tringham, 2015b). The
chapter is titled Dido and the Basketand
comprises the story of a basket found in the
burial pit (F.634) of a 45-year-old woman
in Building 3 laid down 9000 years ago at
Çatalhöyük in Turkey. The final section of
this short article juxtaposes textual frag-
ments; some (now) are taken directly from
observations embedded in the official
project report, Last House on the Hill (Tring-
ham & Stevanovic, 2012); others (then) are
interpretations wrapped in the enticing
clothing of imagined narratives of Neolithic
events (see Figure 4). The three tiny films
that constitute this experimental version
follow the structure and sequence of the
printed chapter: Discovery (https://vimeo.
com/305390297;seeFigure 5a); (Re-)Con-
struction (;see
Figure 5b); Basketsstory(
305390583;seeFigure 5c), but the digital
on-screen format allows me to go way
beyond the print version in terms of affect;
the third mini-film, for example, is designed
as an ASMR movie in which the persona of
the basket takes centre-stage. Moreover, the
basket participates throughout all three
mini-movies (including the documentary
footage of Figure 5a)withcommentary,
which, unlike the printed version, is entirely
If I was to respond to the question above, I
would say that these experiments are to
Figure 5. Screenshots of the 3-mini-movie series Dido and the Basket (©Ruth Tringham 2018).
a: Basket discovered. b: Basket constructed. c: Basket revealed.
12 European Journal of Archaeology 2019
Downloaded from IP address:, on 12 May 2019 at 22:31:40, subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at
make sure that what we do not know is not
smothered by the enticement of certitude,
even when we create fictional stories. By
replacing clear text and/or audible words of
a story with the non-verbal vocalizations of
language, and likewise rendering clear
visuals of reconstruction as surreal images, I
am reminding others that we do not have
either a clear visualization of past lives or
any idea of the words in their mouths or
their heads. Moreover, it is possible that
removing spoken content that has obvious
meaning (to us) and focusing the story on
the utterances makes us more aware of the
powerful emotional evocation that is con-
tributed by these marginalaspects of
speech. We cannot see or hear their details,
but we can get very close to them in order
to conjure up their emotions, without
having to think in terms of clear textual
content. The close proximity that is a char-
acteristic of my quasi-ASMR videos creates
a feeling of almost touching the past.
What I have written here should be
taken in the spirit of playfulness, subver-
sion, and participatory exploration. I have
come to the conclusion that there are still
many ways in which the ambiguity of
archaeological data could be celebrated
and a dynamic human-scale past expressed
that have yet to be explored creatively with
digital formats. I welcome the fact that
now, some, at least, of the creators of
primary archaeological data and heritage
and museum installationsthe content of
things digitalare willing to take the risk
or make the time to try.
I would like to express my deep appreci-
ation to the organizers of the original con-
ference at EAA 2018 in Barcelona: Marta
Diaz-Guardamino Uribe, Colleen Morgan,
and Catherine Frieman. I would also like
to thank Sara Perry for some very valuable
commentary, and Alice Watterson for
being so gracious to allow me to go ahead
with my re-mediation of her gorgeous
video. I also greatly appreciate the very
helpful comments of the anonymous
reviewers who prompted me to make some
quite substantial changes to this manu-
script. There were several people (both
archaeologists and normal people)on
whom I tried out the movies and who gave
me feedback; I dont have space here to
thank you individually, except for Annie
Danis, who, as always, gave invaluable
Ameka, F. 1992. Interjections: The Universal
Yet Neglected Part of Speech. Journal of
Pragmatics, 18: 10118.
Anderson, S. 2011. Technologies of History:
Visual Media and the Eccentricity of the
Past. Boston (MA): Dartmouth College
Press (UPNE).
Barad, K. 2003. Posthumanist Performativity:
Toward an Understanding of How
Matter Comes to Matter. Signs: Journal
of Women in Culture and Society, 28:
Bernard, S. 2007. Documentary Storytelling:
Making Stronger and More Dramatic Non-
fiction Films. New York: Elsevier.
Beyst, S. 2003. György Ligetis Aventures:
Ode to the Discrepancy BETWEEN
Word and Deed [online] [accessed 20 July
2018]. Available at: <
Bolter, J. & Grusin, R. 1999. Remediation:
Understanding New Media. Cambridge
(MA): MIT Press.
Broughton, C. 2009. Interview: Making
Neanderthal Music at Museum of Wales.
Culture 24 [online] [accessed 5 March
2019]. Available at: <https://www.culture24.
Champion, E. 2011. Playing with the Past.
London: Springer.
Champion, E. 2015. Critical Gaming:
Interactive History and Virtual Heritage.
Farnham: Ashgate.
Tringham Giving Voices (Without Words) to Prehistoric People 13
Downloaded from IP address:, on 12 May 2019 at 22:31:40, subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at
Cowen, A.S., Elfenbein, H.A., Laukka, P. &
Keltner, D. 2018. Mapping 24 Emotions
Conveyed by Brief Human Vocalization.
American Psychologist (Advance online
publication, December 2018). http://dx.
Darwin, C. 1872. The Expression of The
Emotions in Man and Animals. London:
John Murray.
Domanska, E. 2018. Is This Stone Alive?
Prefiguring the Future Role of
Archaeology. Norwegian Archaeological
Review, 51: 2235.
Douglas, J.Y. 2001. The End of Books Or
Books without End? Reading Interactive
Narratives. Ann Arbor (MI): University of
Michigan Press.
Gero, J. 2007. Honoring Ambiguity/Problem-
atizing Certitude. Journal of Archaeological
Method and Theory, 14: 31127.
Goddard, C. 2014. Interjections and Emotion
(With Special Reference to Surpriseand
Disgust). Emotion Review,6:5363.
Gumperz, J. 1982. Discourse Strategies.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hamilakis, Y. 2013. Archaeology and the Senses:
Human Experience, Memory, and Affect.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Haraway, D. 2008. When Species Meet. Minneap-
olis (MN): University of Minnesota Press.
Joyce, R. 2002. The Languages of Archaeology.
Oxford: Blackwell.
Joyce, R. & Tringham, R. 2007. Feminist
Adventures in Hypertext. Journal of
Archaeological Method and Theory, 14: 328
Katifori, A., Perry, S., Vayanou, M., Pujol, L.,
Angeliki, C., Kourtis, V. & Ioannidis, Y.
2016. Cultivating Mobile-mediated Social
Interaction in the Museum: Toward a
Group-based Digital Storytelling Experi-
ence. Museums and the Web 2016 [online]
[accessed 5 March 2019]. Available at:
Landow, G. 1992. Hypertext: The Convergence
of Contemporary Critical Theory and
Technology. Baltimore (MD): Johns
Hopkins University Press.
Luers, W. 2013. Plotting the Database. In:
M. Soar & M. Gagnon, eds. Database |
Narrative | Archive: Seven Interactive
Essays on Digital Nonlinear Storytelling
[online] [accessed 15 February 2019].
Available at: <
Manovich, L. 2001. The Language of New
Media. Cambridge (MA): MIT Press.
Mithen, S. 2006. The Singing Neanderthals.
Cambridge (MA): Harvard University
Mol, E. in prep. Roman Cyborgs! On Signifi-
cant Otherness, Material Absence and
Virtual Presence IN Digital Archaeology.
European Journal of Archaeology [under
Murray, J. 2009. Non-Discursive Rhetoric:
Image and Affect in Multimodal
Composition. Albany (NY): SUNY Press.
Murray, J. 2012. Symbolizing Space: Non-dis-
cursive Composing of the Invisible. In: D.
Journet, C. Ball & R. Trauman, eds. The
New Work of Composing. Salt Lake City
(UT): Computers and Composition
Digital Press [online] [accessed 5 March
2019]. Available at: <https://ccdigitalpress.
Perry, S. 2019. The Enchantment of the
Archaeological Record. European Journal
of Archaeology [this volume].
Poerio, G., Blakey, E., Hostler, T.J. &
Veltri, T. 2018. More than a Feeling:
Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response
(ASMR) is Characterized by Reliable
Changes in Affect and Physiology. PLOS
One, 13(6): e0196645.
Pollock, S. 2015. Wrestling with Truth:
Possibilities and Peril in Alternative
Narrative Forms. In: R.M. Van Dyke &
R. Bernbeck, eds. Subjects and Narratives
in Archaeology. Denver (CO): University
Press of Colorado, pp. 27786.
Roussou, M., Ripanti, F. & Servi, K. 2017.
Engaging Visitors of Archaeological Sites
through EMOTIVEStorytelling
Experiences: A Pilot at the Ancient Agora
of Athens. Archeologia e Calcolatori, 28(2):
Sauter, D.A., Eisner, F., Ekman, P. &
Scott, S.K. 2010a. Cross-cultural
Recognition of Basic Emotions Through
Nonverbal Emotional Vocalizations.
Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences of the United States of America,107:
14 European Journal of Archaeology 2019
Downloaded from IP address:, on 12 May 2019 at 22:31:40, subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at
Sauter, D.A., Eisner, F., Calder, A.J. &
Scott, S.K. 2010b. Perceptual Cues in
Nonverbal Vocal Expressions of Emotion.
Quarterly Journal of Experimental
Psychology, 63: 225172.
Simon-Thomas, E.R., Keltner, D.J.,
Sauter, D., Sinicropi-Yao, L. &
Abramson, A. 2009. The Voice Conveys
Specific Emotions: Evidence from Vocal
Burst Displays. Emotion, 9: 83846.
Sørensen, T.F. 2016. In Praise of Vagueness:
Uncertainty, Ambiguity, and Archaeological
Methodology. Journal of Archaeological
Method and Theory, 23: 74163.
Tarlow, S. 2012. The Archaeology of Emotion
and Affect. Annual Review of
Anthropology, 41: 16985.
Thomas, Jonathan 2015 The Archaeologist
as Writer. In: R.M. Van Dyke & R.
Bernbeck, eds. Subjects and Narratives in
Archaeology. Denver (CO): University
Press of Colorado, pp. 16987.
Tringham, R. 1991. Households with Faces:
The Challenge of Gender in Prehistoric
Architectural Remains. In: J. Gero & M.
Conkey, eds. Engendering Archaeology:
Women and Prehistory. Oxford: Blackwell,
pp. 93131.
Tringham, R. 2015a. Creating Narratives of
the Past as Recombinant Histories. In: R.
M. Van Dyke & R. Bernbeck, eds.
Subjects and Narratives in Archaeology.
Denver (CO): University Press of
Colorado, pp. 2754.
Tringham, R. 2015b. Dido and the Basket:
Fragments Towards a Non-linear History.
In: A. Clarke, U. Frederick & S. Brown,
eds. Object Stories: Artifacts and
Archaeologists. Walnut Creek (CA): Left
Coast Press, pp. 16168.
Tringham, R. & Danis, A. in press. Doing
Sensory Archaeology: The Challenges. In:
R. Skeates & J. Day, eds. The Routledge
Handbook of Sensory Archaeology.
New York: Routledge.
Tringham, R. & Stevanovic, M. eds. 2012.
Last House on the Hill: BACH Area Reports
from Çatalhöyük, Turkey (Çatalhöyük vol.
11). Los Angeles (CA): Cotsen Institute
of Archaeology, UCLA.
Van Dyke, R.M. & Bernbeck, R. eds. 2015.
Subjects and Narratives in Archaeology.
Denver (CO): University Press of Colorado.
Watterson, A. 2014. Engaging with the Visual:
Re-Thinking Interpretive Archaeological
Visualisation (PhD dissertation, Glasgow
School of Art, Digital Design Studio
[online] [accessed 16 April 2019].
Available at <>.
Watterson, A. 2015. Beyond Digital Dwelling:
Rethinking Interpretive Visualisation in
Archaeology. Open Archaeology, 1: 11930.
Wylie, A. 2007. Doing Archaeology as a
Feminist: Introduction. Journal of
Archaeological Method and Theory, 14(3:
special issue: Practising Archaeology as a
Feminist, edited by A. Wylie & M.
Conkey): 20916.
Yalouri, E. 2018. The Return of the Unreal.
Field: A Journal of Socially Engaged Art
Criticism, 11: 117.
Ruth Tringham is a professor of the
Graduate School (Anthropology) at UC
Berkeley, meaning she has retired from
teaching but is actively engaged in research
on digital technologies applied to the
afterlives of archaeological projects in a
variety of formats. She has directed arch-
aeological projects at Çatalhöyük, Turkey,
and in south-eastern Europe, focusing on
the life-histories of Neolithic people,
places, and things from a feminist and
multisensorial perspective.
Address: Ruth Tringham, Dept. of Anthro-
pology, University of California, Berkeley,
424 Anderson Street, San Francisco, Cali-
fornia, 94110, USA. [email: tringham@].
Tringham Giving Voices (Without Words) to Prehistoric People 15
Downloaded from IP address:, on 12 May 2019 at 22:31:40, subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at
Redonner une voix (sans paroles) aux peoples préhistoriques : un aperçu tiré de
limagination dune archéologue
Le chemin parcouru pour surmonter la gêne ressentie par moi-même et maints collègues plus courageux
quand il sagit de mettre des mots dans la bouche et la tête de personnages préhistoriques, sachant bien
que ces mots en disent plus sur nous que sur la préhistoire, forme le sujet de cet article. Mais sils restent
muets, comment les archéologues et le grand public peuvent-ils imaginer les aspects intangibles dun
passé très ancien (sentiments, émotions, genre, sens) ? En outre, ces mots créent un climat de certitude
trompeuse qui masque les ambigüités des données archéologiques. Existe-t-il des alternatives aux paroles
trop précises quand on tente dimaginer des récits fictifs situés dans le passé ? En minspirant du compo-
siteur Györgi Ligeti, des travaux de linguistes et de chercheurs en psychologie expérimentale, et de prati-
ciens de lASMR (Réponse Automatique des Méridiens Sensoriels), jexamine ici le pouvoir émotionnel
de la voix dans ses interjections et expressions non verbales de caractère plus universel et moins chargées
de bagage culturel. Je présente ainsi trois essais de re-création numérique illustrant trois situations
préhistoriques provenant de contextes archéologiques en Europe et en Anatolie. Translation by
Madeleine Hummler
Mots-clés: communication non verbale, narration numérique, Néolithique, récits, fiction, émotion
Die Verleihung einer Stimme (ohne Worte) an den urgeschichtlichen Menschen.
Ein Einblick in die Vorstellungen einer Archäologin
In diesem Artikel beschreibe ich den Weg zur Überwindung der Unzufriedenheit, die ich und manche
mutigere Kollegen empfinden, wenn es darum geht, Worte in den Mund oder Kopf von urgeschichtli-
chen Personen zu stecken, in dem Bewusstsein, dass diese Worte mehr über uns als über die Urgeschichte
erkennen lassen. Aber wie können sich die Archäologen und die breite Öffentlichkeit die immateriellen
Aspekte der tiefen Vergangenheit (wie Gefühle, Gemütsbewegungen, Geschlecht oder die Sinne) ohne
Sprache vorstellen? Darüber hinaus geben solche Aussagen einen falschen Eindruck, der klarer als die
unbestimmten Angaben der archäologischen Daten ist. Gibt es alternative Möglichkeiten, die sprachliche
Äußerungen ausschließen und die es ermöglichen, fiktive Erzählungen über die Vergangenheit aufzu-
bauen? Vom Komponisten Györgi Ligeti inspiriert und von den Arbeiten von Sprachwissenschaftler
und experimenteller Psychologen sowie Praktikern der sogenannten Autonomous Sensory Meridian
Response (ASMR) angeregt, untersuche ich die emotionale Kraft von nonverbalen Ausrufen und
Äußerungen, die eher einen allgemeingültigen Charakter haben und weniger kulturell geprägt sind. Ich
stelle hier drei verschiedene Versuche vor, die durch den Einsatz digitaler Medien entstanden sind und
drei urgeschichtliche Situationen in Europa und Anatolien schildern. Translation by Madeleine
Stichworte: nonverbale Kommunikation, digitale Erzählungen, Neolithikum, Schilderungen,
Fiktion, Gefühl
16 European Journal of Archaeology 2019
Downloaded from IP address:, on 12 May 2019 at 22:31:40, subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at
... At the same time, archaeologists have implemented new approaches to archaeological investigation by initiating novel strategies of analysis, interpretation and communication (Bender et al. 2008;Holtorf 2004). Growing recognition of these synergies is evident in unconventional approaches to archaeology and heritage publishing (Aldred and P alsson 2018;Bailey 2014b;Frederick 2019;Jordan 2018;Schofield 2006;Tringham 2019;Watson 2004) and in the emergence of major exhibitions exploring the art-archaeology-heritage nexus (e.g. Roelstraete 2013). ...
Full-text available
Last Drinks at the Hibernian (Frederick & Ireland 2016) is a collaborative art work that explores what happens when archaeological materials are reconstituted as art and how the ‘creative turn’ might swivel archaeology’s critical lens back onto its own practices and materialities. This creative engagement explores the history and political economy of Australian archaeology, particularly historical archaeology, in order to understand how archaeology is an affective and aesthetic framing of materials, as well as an epistemology for knowledge production about the past from materials in the present. Approaching archaeology as a set of generative practices, ‘ways of seeing’ and making, we wonder how entangled these sensibilities towards material remains might be and what effect this entanglement has on how heritage is generated, and how the past is represented and remembered through images and things.
This project presents a cowritten fictional narrative that evokes questions about schooling. The story depicts future quasi-archeologists interpreting “found” educational artifacts—our data. The process of writing defamiliarized our perspectives on public school teaching and helped us explore the borders of what is valued in social science research. Early on, we established structures and criteria for sharing physical artifacts with one another. Then, we engaged in dialogue from the perspective of our characters using an adapted set of steps for document analysis to guide our interaction with the unfamiliar artifacts. Throughout, our discussions and narrative drafting helped us establish a more complete fictional future for our imagined researchers to inhabit. We identified three themes that we articulate through theory to build our critique of schooling. We have found that fiction writing not only helped us achieve defamiliarization, but our inquiry suggests that fiction writing operates effectively as a rigorous analytic lens.
Digital archaeology is both a pervasive practice and a unique subdiscipline within archaeology. The diverse digital methods and tools employed by archaeologists have led to a proliferation of innovative practice that has fundamentally reconfigured the discipline. Rather than reviewing specific technologies, this review situates digital archaeology within broader theoretical debates regarding craft and embodiment; materiality; the uncanny; and ethics, politics, and accessibility. A future digital archaeology must move beyond skeuomorphic submission and replication of previous structural inequalities to foment new archaeological imaginaries. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Anthropology Volume 51 is October 2022. Please see for revised estimates.
Full-text available
Life in the Roman World (LitRW) is a programme for schools based on research carried out by the School of Archaeology and Ancient History (SAAH) at the University of Leicester (UoL) on Roman-era identities, and large-scale investigation of Roman Leicester by University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS). LitRW includes a book and teaching resources which have introduced new non-traditional audiences to the complex, diverse communities of the Roman world through the prism of local heritage. This programme has dramatically increased teacher and pupil engagement with archaeology and classical subjects in state schools in the East Midlands, making Roman-era history, culture and language accessible to c. 9,900 participants, many from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The purpose of this chapter is to discuss the outcomes of the Fitzwilliam Museum’s Arts and Humanities Research Council funded (AHRC) Creative Economy Engagement Fellowships, a practice-driven research, development programme and knowledge transfer activity. The guiding principles and methods behind these Fellowships were to make use of low cost, replicable 3D scanning of the Museum's collection, whilst working with an educational technology startup and a 3D printing artisan workshop to determine how their technologies could be exploited whilst focusing on user-centred design. This chapter demonstrates how Early Career Researchers (ECRs) can gain valuable career progression and creative industries experience whilst combining digital technologies, audience engagement and research and implement them in a short time frame.KeywordsCreative industries3D printingMuseologyEgyptologyArchaeology
Full-text available
Medieval women are typically portrayed as secluded, passive agents within castle studies. Although the garden is regarded as associated with women there has been little exploration of this space within medieval archaeology. In this paper, a new methodological framework is used to demonstrate how female agency can be explored in the context of the lived experience of the medieval garden. In particular, this study adopts a novel approach by focusing on relict plants at some medieval castles in Britain and Ireland. Questions are asked about the curation of these plants and the associated social practices of elite women, including their expressions of material piety, during the later medieval period. This provides a way of questioning the ‘sacrality’ of medieval gardening which noblewomen arguably used as a devotional practice and as a means to further their own bodily agency through sympathetic medicine.
This chapter shows how a perspective of Sandby borg as difficult heritage became increasingly relevant due to stories circulating of a long-term avoidance of the fort. These stories started to be expressed to archaeologists from the instance that the massacre was discovered in 2011 and has been prevailing up until today. I theorize the connection between “space” and “time” in relationship to prehistoric violence, focusing on how prehistoric violence has been separated as both temporally as well as spatially distant, by positioning it into a foreign country. Finally, I contextualize Sandby borg by looking at other cases of violence pertaining to the distant past.
Full-text available
When archaeologists or other professionals engaging with heritage are discussing their purpose in society, it has become increasingly common to do so under the imperative that they can help reclaim memories and, in some way, give voices back to those who have been silenced in history.1 Within this process, archaeologists are particularly well-placed to uncover these memories because they mainly work with material that has been neglected and discarded, the mundane aspects of everyday life. This is especially poignant in the case of historical or contemporary archaeology3 since the memories ‘uncovered’ may be remembered by people still alive today, but, as I will present later, it may also be valid for prehistoric archaeology. This approach hopes to reinforce the relevance of archaeology, as a discipline, by recognizing its ethical and political implications. Through pluralizing voices and perspectives within and upon the past,6 archaeology thus becomes a tool for democratization in society. However, while I find an archaeology of reclaiming memories both important and necessary, I have also identified a set of pitfalls and assumptions that will be elaborated upon in this argumentative paper. This paper is written as a critical discussion paper in which I begin by outlining what I deem to form the main possibilities in an archaeology of reclaiming memories. Thereafter, I will outline three pitfalls and their underlying assumptions. Finally, I will summarize the argument and provide some suggestions.
The human imagination manifests in countless different forms. We imagine the possible and the impossible. How do we do this so effortlessly? Why did the capacity for imagination evolve and manifest with undeniably manifold complexity uniquely in human beings? This handbook reflects on such questions by collecting perspectives on imagination from leading experts. It showcases a rich and detailed analysis on how the imagination is understood across several disciplines of study, including anthropology, archaeology, medicine, neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, and the arts. An integrated theoretical-empirical-applied picture of the field is presented, which stands to inform researchers, students, and practitioners about the issues of relevance across the board when considering the imagination. With each chapter, the nature of human imagination is examined – what it entails, how it evolved, and why it singularly defines us as a species.
Full-text available
Post-modernity has a distinctly pre-apocalyptic feel to it, and this feeling has seeped into archaeology. A review of the scholarship from 2019 attests that archaeologists are having to reckon with present-day conditions and phenomena as they structure their research, delineate the material world, and affirm archaeology's relevance. Furthermore, these concerns have moved from the realm of the rarely spoken and come to constitute a critical conversation in the field. In a number of respects, the contours of archaeology now hinge upon the discipline's responses to developments in real time, including: How can archaeological knowledge production escape the logistical and epistemological bounds of late capitalism and its failures? Can archaeology contribute to future-building, and what would that look like? Does archaeology have to be scholar-activism to achieve the goal of making the past matter (to whom) (for what)? [archaeology, contemporary archaeology, future archaeology, current issues]
Full-text available
Empirical studies increasingly testify to the capacity for archaeological and cultural heritage sites to engender wonder, transformation, attachment, and community bonding among diverse individuals. Following political theorist Jane Bennett, these sites have the power to ‘enchant’ and, in so doing, they are seedbeds of human generosity, ethical mindfulness, and care for the world at large. However, the means by which such enchantment is created, and the extent to which these intimate encounters with the prehistoric or historic record can be deliberately crafted, are little understood. Worsening the predicament, professional practices commonly thwart the potential for archaeology to provoke ethical action amongst humans. Here, I propose a multi-stranded conceptual model for generating enchantment with the archaeological record across both professional audiences and broader publics. With reference to the European Commission-funded EMOTIVE Project, I articulate one particular strand of this model: facilitated dialogue. Alongside exploring the role of digital culture in its advancement, I argue that an enchantment-led approach is imperative for achieving a truly socially-beneficial archaeological discipline.
Full-text available
Emotional vocalizations are central to human social life. Recent studies have documented that people recognize at least 13 emotions in brief vocalizations. This capacity emerges early in development, is preserved in some form across cultures, and informs how people respond emotionally to music. What is poorly understood is how emotion recognition from vocalization is structured within what we call a semantic space, the study of which addresses questions critical to the field: How many distinct kinds of emotions can be expressed? Do expressions convey emotion categories or affective appraisals (e.g., valence, arousal)? Is the recognition of emotion expressions discrete or continuous? Guided by a new theoretical approach to emotion taxonomies, we apply large-scale data collection and analysis techniques to judgments of 2,032 emotional vocal bursts produced in laboratory settings (Study 1) and 48 found in the real world (Study 2) by U.S. English speakers (N = 1,105). We find that vocal bursts convey at least 24 distinct kinds of emotion. Emotion categories (sympathy, awe), more so than affective appraisals (including valence and arousal), organize emotion recognition. In contrast to discrete emotion theories, the emotion categories conveyed by vocal bursts are bridged by smooth gradients with continuously varying meaning. We visualize the complex, high-dimensional space of emotion conveyed by brief human vocalization within an online interactive map.
Full-text available
The use of interactive storytelling by museums and heritage sites lends to the creation of experiences that support visitors in engaging emotionally with the objects on display. Finding ways to connect to the cultural content is even more important for visitors of archaeological sites due to the often fragmentary nature of the exhibits, which can leave them wondering what was once there and how it relates to them. In this paper, we describe the creation of a prototype mobile storytelling experience that attempts to explore a more emotive kind of storytelling in cultural contexts. The prototype was evaluated in a preliminary study that took place at the archaeological site of the Ancient Agora of Athens. The observations provide insights for the design of future iterations of such emotive storytelling experiences. © 2017 Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche. All rights reserved.
Full-text available
Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) describes the experience of tingling sensations in the crown of the head, in response to a range of audio-visual triggers such as whispering, tapping, and hand movements. Public interest in ASMR has risen dramatically and ASMR experiencers watch ASMR videos to promote relaxation and sleep. Unlike ostensibly similar emotional experiences such as “aesthetic chills” from music and awe-inspiring scenarios, the psychological basis of ASMR has not yet been established. We present two studies (one large-scale online experiment; one laboratory study) that test the emotional and physiological correlates of the ASMR response. Both studies showed that watching ASMR videos increased pleasant affect only in people who experienced ASMR. Study 2 showed that ASMR was associated with reduced heart rate and increased skin conductance levels. Findings indicate that ASMR is a reliable and physiologically-rooted experience that may have therapeutic benefits for mental and physical health.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The museum visit is a collaborative activity: people typically visit museums in social groups, and conversation between group members has been highlighted as a key aspect for an engaging visitor experience. In this work, we detail initial findings and experience results from the design and evaluation of a group-based digital storytelling journey, where visitor-to-visitor engagement takes place under the frame of an interactive, mobile technology-based story. The results suggest not only the potential to cultivate social interaction between individuals using their own mobile devices, but also to generate immediate transcultural and transgenerational understanding and cooperation in situ.
To understand the role of language in public life and the social process in general, we need first a closer understanding of how linguistic knowledge and social factors interact in discourse interpretation. This volume is a major advance towards that understanding. Professor Gumperz here synthesizes fundamental research on communication from a wide variety of disciplines - linguistics, sociolinguistics, anthropology and non-verbal communication - and develops an original and broadly based theory of conversational inference which shows how verbal communication can serve either between individuals of different social and ethnic backgrounds. The urgent need to overcome such barriers to effective communication is also a central concern of the book. Examples of conversational exchanges as well as of longer encounters, recorded in the urban United States, village Austria, South Asia and Britain, and analyzed to illustrate all aspects of the analytical approach, and to show how subconscious cultural presuppositions can damagingly affect interpretation of intent and judgement of interspeaker attitude. The volume will be of central interest to anyone concerned with communication, whether from a more academic viewpoint or as a professional working, for example, in the fields of interethnic or industrial relations.
In this article I explore different ways archaeologists can contribute to and learn from theorizing the digital world beyond the traditional functionalistic means of applying computational methods. I argue that current digital technologies can be a very constructive tool to create non-human experience and awareness. I pursue this argument by presenting ideas from a work-in-progress project experimenting with the post-human and the virtual, and by exploring significant otherness in Roman religion and the dark spots in human perception, through the analysis of an absent temple in Rome. Applying post-human philosophies and an expanded concept of virtuality beyond the digital makes it possible to change our approach to object/human/divine relations in Roman cults and how we present Roman heritage towards a post-humanist framework. Through this, digital archaeology can become one of the ways of re-examining and reinventing our ideas of the human, the past and the digital.
By reflecting on new and emerging perspectives and trends in the contemporary humanities and social sciences, including the critique of anthropocentrism, Eurocentrism and secularism, the questioning of human epistemic authority over knowledge building, the ‘indigenization of the academy’, and debates over the applicability of the humanities to the problems of the contemporary world, the author identifies tendencies that are relevant to discussions on the future role of archaeology. In her analysis of the ontological and animist/ic turns, the author claims that asking the questions ‘what is an object?’ and ‘is it alive?’ within the context of this paradigm shift might support the emergence of an alternative worldview based on a participatory perspective of the world that understands (new) animism as a different way of being human and relating to the world on different terms. The author asks whether it is possible for archaeology (as the discipline of ‘animated bones and things’) to potentially become an intellectual platform for exercising an alternative worldview.