Upcoming TAG conference

Hey all,

There is an upcoming TAG (Theoretical Archaeology Group) conference coming up in May that might be of interest.  For those that do not know, TAG began in the United Kingdom for more than 30 years and only recently began holding additional annual meetings in the USA.  So far, these meetings are dominated by West and East coast institutions, with very few Southerners in attendance.  I find this to be a determent to all parties as TAG is a fantastic conference and southern archaeology has quite a bit to offer to the meeting.
I urge everyone to check out the conference page (http://www.tag-usa.org/) and think about offering a paper – deadline in Jan 1st.  I am also hosting a session that might be of interest – find the abstract and prompt below.  I would very much like to highlight as many southern papers as possible within my session – so please think about giving a paper!

Blurry Imaging – Archaeological engagements with the visual

Theoretical Archaeology Group USA, 2013 Conference

Chicago, IL: May 9th-11th, 2013


Imaging holds promise in blurring boundaries between the sciences and humanities through a shared appreciation of aesthetics, especially as new technologies open novel avenues of research.  Archaeologists are particularly well-situated for a “blurred” engagement with imaging as their subject matter, placement within the academy, and intellectual heritage rightfully straddle traditional academic divisions.  This session explores the way archaeologists are employing imaging and its effects on how knowledge is being generated, judged, and shared.  As imaging allows access to new sets of information it also readjusts archaeological focus and frames of reference towards the “visualizable”.  The ramifications of this shift are just beginning to be seen – some of which are highlighted within this session.

Prompt for presenters

This session is designed to highlight the ways in which archaeological questions are being influenced by an increased emphasis on visual data.  How are research designs written with visual data in mind?  How do we interpret data based on visual information?  How does the rise of the visual influence our ability to judge the accuracy/veracity of arguments?

Often, the rise of visual data creates opportunities to overlap with more “humanistic” endeavors.  For example, visual data is often aesthetically pleasing and can be considered a worthy artistic project.  How has an increased emphasis on the visual challenged traditional roles of archaeology as a Science?  In what ways do novel lines of visual data create situations where the archaeological project becomes interesting to a broader audience?

Finally, what are the current limitations, both theoretical and practical, within archaeology that will be highlighted by the rise of imaging?  For example, traditional journals and print publications are difficult venues for sharing 3-dimensional visual data – an increasingly common aspect of archaeological research.  Also, with an increased focus on visualization, what are we shifting focus from?  In other words, what information is being sacrificed?

Contact Information

Matthew C. Sanger – Columbia University and American Museum of Natural History


The Enigma of the Event: Two new working papers

I just posted two new working papers that are intended for inclusion in an upcoming edited book entitled The Enigma of the Event: Moments of Consequence in the Ancient Southeast.  The first (“Event and History in the Precolumbian Southeast”) is the introductory chapter written by myself and Jason O’Donoughue.  In it, we discuss broadly the nature of the “event” as a historical category as well as its potential utility in archaeological investigations of “prehistoric” social dynamics.  The second paper (“Subterranean Histories: Pit Events and Place-Making in Late Archaic Florida”) focuses on the eventfulness of Late Archaic (Orange Period) pit digging and deposition practices at the Silver Glen Run complex in northeast Florida.  I argue that these seemingly ordinary acts actually constituted important historical occurrences due to the influence they exerted on future patterns of practice, at both local and extra-local scales.

Any comments or suggestions on either/both of the papers would be greatly appreciated.  I am especially interested in hearing opinions regarding the manner in which we frame the event as a concept, as well as any critical viewpoints or references that we may have missed. Thanks in advance!

SEAC Paper/Poster Roll Call

Once again, a wonderfully engaging and productive SEAC has come and gone and hopefully that post-conference excitement and inspiration has not faded too quickly.  Let us know which papers/posters/sessions stood out to you and maybe how you plan to incorporate those ideas into your own work.  What were your thoughts on the Plenary Session “Taking Stock of Social Theory in Southeastern Archaeology”?

Also, congratulations to Dana Bardolph who won this years’ Student Paper Prize and to our very own Alice Wright who brought home the second place prize!


Kuddos to Meg and the SEAC Underground Project

I’m writing this small post during the lunch break on the second full day of the 2012 SEAC conference in Baton Rouge. The conference leaves little time for blogging, but I want to make sure that Meg is commended for her professional and poignant discussion comments in yesterday’s Plenary Session. Thanks for promoting the SEAC Underground project so eloquently yesterday, Meg. Great job!