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Revising Dream Archaeology

I’ve set as a goal to send out my now over-hyped Dream Archaeology paper by the beginning of May — that is before the start of my field season with the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project. I presented the paper in the early winter at North Dakota State University and got a good bit of helpful feedback.  I’ve also had some useful conversations with Kostis Kourelis (see his discussion of Tanagras) and read a good bit more, particularly on modernism and nationalism in a Greek context.  G. Jusdanis Belated Modernity and J. Fabion’s Modern Greek Lessons proved particularly helpful as did a relatively recent volume of MODERNISM/modernity (11 (2004)) which featured a relatively extensive discussion of the relationship between archaeology and modernity.  While I felt fairly confident about my ability to analyze ancient and even Byzantine (particularly hagiographic) sources, my grasp of the modern 

As is so often the case, the final substantial revisions has far more to do with repositioning the paper that I already have than some massive re-write.  In fact, I began the process of repositioning by adding one paragraph:

The wide range of material available from Late Antiquity, the Byzantine period, and contemporary Greek history has emphasized the importance of dreams and visions in creating an understandable historical and archaeological landscape.  These stories suggest that Dream Archaeology stands at the intersection of a number of crucial strands in the development of the Greek landscape.  The following discussion will seek to explore four distinct connections between the world of dreams and archaeological practice.  First, this paper will expand Y. Hamilakis recent discussion of the role of dreams in creating a sacred context for archaeological practice by placing it in a more developed historical context.  To do this, I will focus on both the historical and the performative elements of dream archaeology especially as they provide a link between the role of archaeology as a sacred commission and its production or discovery of  sacred objects.  The liturgical roots of the hagiographic tradition in which Dream Archaeology and inventio play such an important role, connects the obligation of the archaeologist to excavate to religious rites that mediate between the secular present and a divine.  In the modern era, the role of Dream Archaeology in bridging the gap between the eternal sacred and the present and local parallels the role of modern inventio stories that tied local experiences to key events in the emergence of a nationalist narrative.  Nationalism in Greece, as elsewhere, sought to capture and propagate common experiences across geographical extent of the modern nation state and use these narratives as a foundation for a distinct Greek identity.  The power of Dream Archaeology, and the final focus of this discussion, is that it not only promoted the autochthonous character of the Greek identity and experience, but it recognized it within dreams which rank among the most personal experiences of an individual.  Thus, Dream Archaeology creates a set of conditions in which the nation can transcend the chronological experiences and spatial limits of a local communities and pervades the unconscious world of the individuals. 

Stay tuned for another “working” draft in the next couple of weeks.

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Categories: Byzantium, Late Antiquity
  1. June 13, 2009 at 2:04 am

    I’m very interested in your line of thought here, connecting dreams and archaeology in antiquity. this is part of cognitive archaeology that has been overlooked for far too long. have you published it yet?

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