Four Miniposts on a disjointed Tuesday
I usually wake up, become oriented, and think about what I will do and blog about for the day. This morning, I slipped into some kind of overload. I could not put together a coherent blog post, plan for the day, or strategy for the week. This semester has presented me with a whole series of mini-tasks. None takes more than a day or two and none provides any sense of accomplishment.
So, in the spirit of the mini-task, I offer four mini-posts:
1. Video and the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project. So what would happen if we distributed 5 simple HD cameras to folks on PKAP this summer. They were told to video anything of interest to them and at the end of each day, we downloaded the video onto a hard drive and marked with the individual’s name. On the return to the US we turned it all over to another group of students, faculty, folks, people, scholars, whoever, and asked them to produce a mash-up, narrative, montage, or whatever. What would we learn? What would we see? Who would be the author? Most importantly, what would this exercise or experiment tell us about the experience of archaeology on Cyprus with the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project?
2. Military History in Murfreesboro. In April, I am going to the Society for Military History’s Annual Meeting in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I was invited to comment on papers offered by a group of graduate students from Penn State on topics related to archaeology and the Battle of Issus where Alexander first defeated the Persian King Darius III. This is pretty far from my comfort zone, although I did write my M.A. Thesis on Alexander the Great and I have worked on Hellenistic fortifications. I have to be honest when I say that I am a bit nervous about this, but the idea of the archaeology of ancient battlefields, has begun to intrigue me. The most recent wave of intensive pedestrian survey archaeology has done little to clarify the topography of battle in the ancient world, and, in this regard, stands in contrast to its predecessor — extensive survey, which often sought to localize ancient battles within the modern topography. So, I think that I will be able to say something…
3. Cyberpunk Space and Archaeology. This is a tiny post for our Punk Archaeology project. I had a habit of reading William Gibson on flights to conduct archaeological work in Greece and Cyprus. Gibson was among the founders of the Cyberpunk movement and many of his books are characterized by vivid “post-urban” landscapes. While all his books work at the intersection of material culture, punk, and identity, his Bridge Trilogy (Virtual Light, Idoru, and All Tomorrow’s Parties) was the first to draw me in — if for no other reason than one of the books was titled All Tomorrow’s Parties and any book with a title from a Velvet Underground song deserves to be read. One of the key settings in these works (which I have not read for at least 5 years) is Bay Bridge in San Francisco which after being damaged in an earthquake became an interstitial settlement. Spolia, the re-use of urban space, cultural and political dystopia, and the shadow of natural disasters evoke themes common to literature on Late Antique archaeology.
4. An Encyclopedia of Baptisteries. I’ve recently returned to thinking about Early Christian baptisteries. Hopefully I will have a few early drafts of encyclopedia type entries done in the next week or so. As I write these relatively short entries, I’ve had to think about what to include and exclude in each and who my audience will be. It reminded me of site reports from my time at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Do I include dimensions? Do I include scholarly debates? How much bibliography should I include? Should I interpret as much as I describe? More?
So, four mini posts for the day.