A Survey of Archaeological Excavation Manuals

In the lead up to the publication of the Corinth Excavation Archaeological Manual, I surfed the web a bit and found pulled together this little list of about 25 manuals that I could find doing simply Google searches on the internet. Of this group, only 6 are published manuals (in the broadest sense) included the classic J.P. Droop manual from 1915 and the frequently cited Dever and Lance manual from the late 1970s. Droop, Badè, and the Blakely, O’Connell, and Toombs’ manual are available online.

The rest of the manuals in this list are more or less grey literature in archaeology and, at least from my perspective, fairly ephemeral. To do my part, I pointed the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine at all of the manuals that might have a less than stable URL to create a little bit of an archive. Of particular note are the state manuals for various kinds of archaeological and cultural resource assessments. Each state has their own manuals that include the various procedures for producing official reports on archaeological sties, historical buildings, and landscapes. I’ve chosen to include just a few in that section. If there are particularly exemplary state manuals that my colleagues working in CRM and in the U.S. might recommend, I’d really like to add them,

Finally, the project manuals are a genuinely mixed bag and I’m under no illusions that these are somehow representative of the field (although I do think that they are basically representative of what is readily available on the web). I am interested in expanding this list especially for projects in the Mediterranean archaeology and in Italy and the West. For now, I think emphasizing manuals in English will manage to keep this collection reflective of broad trends in Anglo-American archaeological practice, but I could be convinced otherwise. It is notable that there are only two easily discoverable manuals from Greece (Corinth and Ayia Sotira) and only one from Cyprus (the TAESP survey manual from 2003, but the PKAP Manual, should we find it; I did find our useful lexicon of PKAP terms, though.) Notable among the project manuals is the MoLAS manual and a manual compiled by Gavin Lucas for work on the Fornleifastofnun Íslands.

Finally, this page is largely exploratory, but it is also to test the waters for the idea of a series of published excavation manuals from The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota. While I think that the great flurry of work in archaeological methodology (fueled, in part, by New Archaeology) has perhaps passed, I still think that elevating some particularly representative or even exemplary manuals from the realm of grey literature might be justified.

Thought?

Additions to the list?

Drop me a line or make a comment! 

 

Published Manuals:

J.P. Droop, Archaeological Excavation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1915.

W. F. Badè, A Manual of Excavation in the Near East: Methods of Digging and Recording of the Tell en-Nasbth Expedition in Palestine. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press 1934.

Jeffrey A. Blakely, Kevin G. O’Connell, Lawrence E. Toombs, The Tell el-Hesi Field Manual. Cambridge, Mass. : American Schools of Oriental Research, 1980.

Martha Joukowsky, A Complete Manual of Field Archaeology. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, CA. 1980.

W. Dever and D. Lance, A Manual of Field Excavation: Handbook for Field Archaeologists. Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College, 1982.

S.J. Dockrill, Old Scatness Excavation Manual. Lerwick: Shetland Heritage Publication 2007.

 

State Manuals

Scott Anfinson, SHPO Manual for Archaeological Projects in Minnesota (2005).

Oregon State Historic Preservation Office. Guidelines for Conducting Field Archaeology in Oregon. Salem, OR 2007.

Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Guidelines for Conducting Historical Resources Survey in Virginia. Richmond, VA. 2011.

Archaeological Resource Management Section (ARMS) of the Heritage Resources Branch. Avocational Archaeology Field Manual. 2nd Edition (Saskatchewan Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sport. 2008) 

Parks Canada. Archaeological Recording Manual: Excavations and Surveys. Version 1.0. 2005.

 

Project Manuals:

Museum of London Archaeology Service, Archaeological Site Manual. Third Edition. Museum of London 1994.

Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center Field Manual. 2001.

Gavin Lucas ed., Archaeological Field Manual: Fornleifastofnun Íslands. 3rd Edition. 2003.

Michael Given, Ian Evans, Tracy Ireland, Vasiliki Kassianidou, A. Bernard Knapp, Carole McCartney, Nathan Meyer, Jay Noller, Paul Pelosi, Luke Sollars, Neil Urwin, Kristina Winther Jacobsen, and Sevina Zesimou, Troodos Archaeological and Environmental Survey Project: Field Manual. Fourth Season. 2003.

Greg Jackman and Richard Tuffin, Archaeological Procedures Manual. Port Arthur Historical Site Management Authority. Version 1. 2005.

Tel Gezer Excavation Manual. Unedited and Preliminary Draft. May 2006.

Todd W. Bostwick and Steve Swanson, South Mountain Rock Art Project Field Manual: Recording Rock Art as Archaeology in the South Mountains, Arizona. Revised Edition 2007.

Corinth Excavations, Archaeological Site Manual. 2008.

Scott Brosowske, Texas Archaeological Society Field Schools: Ochiltree and Roberts Counties, Texas. Revised May 2009.

Surrey Archaeological Society: Excavation Recording Manual2010.

Larry G. Herr, Excavation Manual Madaba Plains Project. 2011.

Norvic ArchaeologyThe ROMFA Archaeological Recording Manual. 2011.

Todd W. Bostwick, Verde Valley Archaeology Center Field Excavation Manual. Verde Valley Archaeology Center. Camp Verde, AZ. 2013.

Brett A. Houk and Gregory Zaro, The Chan Chich Archaeological Project Field Manual. First Edition. Papers of the Chan Chich Archaeological Project, Number 9 Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work. Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas. 2015.

Totah Archaeological Project Field School: Excavation Manual. N.D.

Mary K. Dabney, Nemea Valley Archaeological Project Field Manual for the Ayia Sotira Excavation. N.D.

 

The Bakken, Petroculture, and the Anthropocene

Last week, like many folks, I’ve been thinking a good bit about science and the humanities. The march for science has prompted some of this, but so has some recent reading on petroculture and the Anthropocene for my graduate historiography seminar. I read Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement (2016); Bob Johnson’s Carbon Nation: Fossil Fuels in the Making of American Culture (2014); Dipesh Chakrabarty’s seminal “Climate of History: Four Theses,”; Bruno Latour’s “Agency at the Time of the Anthropocene,” and Timothy LeCain’s “Against the Anthropocene: A Neo-Materialist Perspective.”

All of these are fine works by people a good bit smarter than me. 

They’re fueling my thoughts right now on how to bring my long-term research in the Bakken oil patch, which primarily focuses on workforce housing, into a meaningful conversation with recent work on petroculture, agency, and the Anthropocene. It seems like many of these authors write with sweeping perspectives and gestures, and this makes sense because the scale of the Anthropocene and modernism pushes historians to think on both expansive time spans and immersive levels of culture. In particular, they interrogate agency in ways that sever it from the immediacy of human experience. The agency of the Earth, for example, is not something that can always been encountered in a life time, a century, or even a millennium.  Climate change, geology, and even the place and aspect of the Earth in its orbit around the sun contribute to our experience of life at widely varying degrees of immediacy. We may encounter the impact of climate change in our lifetime, but the history of climate change and the role of climate and human actions on shaping our world unfolds over many generations. As several of these scholars have noted, the time spans involved in understanding these phenomena and the complexities of agency alone challenge conventional historical methods.

My work in the Bakken, in contrast, has been much more granular and detailed and focused on a tiny sliver of modernity and petroculture as well as a small window into some of the mechanisms that have contributed to the creation of the Anthropocene. My hope is that by doing this on the local level, we can encounter more readily the intersection of modern labor regimes, domestic practices, work habits (and taskscapes), and technologies (as sophisticated as fracking and as longstanding as railroads). Local perspectives push us to articulate the points of contacts between human and non-human actors in the modern world. Further complicating this is the pace of modernity which accelerates experiences and makes certain moments of interaction particularly ephemeral and generates a tension between the dense networks that allow agents to interact and the episodes of interaction.

My current projects have looked to engage this in two distinct ways:

First, in a book that should appear this fall, I’ve tried to describe the Bakken through the perspective of the tourist. Tourism offers a distinctly modern way of viewing the landscape of petroculture. The imagined tourist to the Bakken participates in a way of viewing (the so-called Tourist Gaze) that relies upon both modern technologies of travel as well as modern ways of organizing space, time, and labor. The neatly organized tourist itineraries punctuated by sites of historical importance and bookended by regular meals, accommodations, and packaged amenities. The Bakken tourist is both within and separate from the world of labor, and this reinforces certain ways of organizing experience that produces divisions between what we can see – an objective reality – and who we are. By making this dichotomy known and apparent, we make the barriers between ourselves and the world susceptible to increased scrutiny. The divisions between the tourist and people, sites, and events that the tourist sees is not so radically different from the division between our gaze as humans and “nature.” And this division has been the target of so many recent critiques of our modern fate and the Anthropocene.     

My research in the Bakken offers that opportunity to bring in human voices, not at the level of society or even in some other meaningful aggregate way, but at the level of the individual. Next year, my colleague Bret Weber will publish a massive collection of interviews with residents of the Bakken. While these interviews are wide ranging and don’t speak to a single moment or issue, they offer an immediately human perspective on petroculture and the mechanisms that have shaped the Anthropocene. If the Bakken provides a circumscribed spatial context to dig deeply into petroculture and place, then the interviews offer a human scale for the interaction between people, extractive industries, and the landscape. The challenge will be to see if I can extract (pun intended!) petroculture and the workings of the Anthropocene at the level of the individual interview and trace our own place in the late modern world in the Bakken workforce.

Friday Varia and Quick Hits

It’s a sunny Friday here in North Dakotaland as the semester winds to a close. I’ve begun to slowly transition my thoughts from the academic year to my summer research carefully compartmentalizing the avalanche of grading over the next few weeks and the bevy of projects that demand to pushed across the finish line (not to mention the gaggle of end of semester meetings that will fill up my time as well as fine weather and social temptations!).

Before you check out the quick hits and varia, do go and read my earlier post today on the third anniversary of Joel Jonientz’s passing and the newest book from The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota, Haunted by Waters: the Future of Memory and the Red River Flood of 1997.

So as I brace for end of semester chaos, enjoy some quick hits and varia:

IMG 0586
We store our dogs this way.

Joel Jonientz and the Digital Press at the University of North Dakota

I’ve been thinking a good bit about by late friend Joel Jonientz this week. He died three years ago yesterday. One of the projects we were working on when he died was Punk Archaeology and it was to be the first book from The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota.

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It was fitting then that I spent part of the evening at a book release event promoting and celebrating the appearance of the seventh book from The Digital Press: Haunted by Waters: the Future of Memory and the Red River Flood of 1997 edited by David Haeselin and students from his writing, editing, and publishing class in the Department of English. The event featured a filmed roundtable hosted by the City of Grand Forks including a little Facebook Live segment which received over 1000 views since last night! We also received some nice local media coverage on the event.

This stuff got me thinking of Joel’s work with the Working Group in Digital and New Media, and, in particular, his efforts to develop a video game called Rhythm Planet in collaboration with students. He eventually launched a (unsuccessful) Kickstarter campaign for the project, and in an effort to promote that, we discussed the game and his method in a two part interview in 2013. Read it here and here (and even if you don’t feel like reading it, do go and check out the art or, better still, check out the video here). I paid pretty close attention to what he was doing in this class and how he motivated students to go beyond a contractual understanding of education and to put their heart and mind into the project. Some of it was probably his infectious enthusiasm and his own willingness to put in time and energy into a project. Some of it was probably his willingness to give students access to the tools to succeed or fail and then the space to allow them to do it. Some of it was probably that he attracted motivated and ambitious students. I muse about his collaborative spirit in a post here and was pretty proud to help keep some of it alive last night.

The biggest thing with Joel is that he embraced an expansive vision of what was possible. In fact, his encouragement and conversations helped me realize that The Digital Press was possible. So last night, I tried to communicate that spirit to the students who worked hard to make Haunted by Waters happen. I pointed out that Joel and I didn’t really have any experience as publishers, but we figured out how the make The Digital Press happen. And if we could do it, they could, and they should embrace the potential of digital media and do their own thing!

Book Day: Haunted by Waters

Please do join me in congratulating David Haeselin and his students in the Writing, Editing, and Publishing program at the University of North Dakota for their first collaboration with The Digital Press: Haunted By Waters: The Future of Memory and the Red River Flood of 1997.

The book is now available for FREE download from The Digital Press’s page. Originally we had decided to release a teaser for the book during “flood week,” but for some crazy reason, David Haeselin and I decided to accelerate production to get the digital version of the book out this week. So it is READY.

The project is a great example of a kind of local, civic-minded, public, digital humanities project. The students, who had no memories of the flood, explored the archives, the earlier literature on the flood, and constructed a book that spoke to the social memories of the flood that they encountered through their time at UND and in Grand Forks. So the book is both a reflection of their experiences and a contribution to the mediated memory of the flood.

Download it today! 

HbW Caraher CoverPostcard 01

Speaking of Universities

One good thing about traveling is (especially on “smaller regional jets”) is the opportunity to read. The seats and tray tables are really too small to do any substantial work on a laptop and my new MacBook Pro has a solid hour of battery life. So I had no excuse to do anything other than read.

I colleague recommended that I check out Stefan Collini’s Speaking of Universities (Verso 2017) because of my general interest in higher education policy and my specific interest in how people talk about higher education. I am also beginning to put a class together on the budget cuts at the University of North Dakota (based very loosely on a series of blog posts here) and their historical context both in higher education in the state and nationally.

The book is a pretty quick read in part because it is a compilation of previously published articles, reviews, and papers which are redundant and, in part, because Collini lays out his arguments very clearly at the start. He is writing in the immediate context of the sweeping changes made to higher education in the England and Wales in 2012. While some of the book does deal with the particular details of these reforms, the book remains a useful read for American academics because of a few salient take aways:

1. Speaking about Higher Education. At a recent meeting on campus, I suggested that part of the challenge facing UND isn’t so much the budget cuts, but how we talk about budget cuts. A couple weeks ago, it was announced that we’d cut our women’s hockey program and the arguments made to defend this move were largely economic ands budgetary. At the same time, the response to the cuts were largely emotional or grounded in arguments about university values. The asymmetries in the arguments made the university look bad because instead of talking about what a university means, UND administrators end up talking about relatively technical aspect of higher education administration (i.e. Title IX, cost/benefit, et c.).

Whatever the realities of these technical constraints are, people nevertheless look to universities to talk about values and leadership. In other words, even as UND faces significant budgetary issues, there remains a responsibility to talk about what a university means, if for no other reason than this is what the public expects.

Collini stresses the need to focus on how we talk about higher education and to resist the temptation to think of higher education as a business or an economic enterprise and communicate with that language. While there is no denying the economic constraints on higher education, Collini argues that the way we talk about about decision making, priorities, and value should reflect things that go far beyond the economic value or realities of the university. After all, we rarely talk about the truly important things in life using economic terms. 

2. Systems, Problems, and Competition. When academics are presented with systems and problems, our general approach is to try to break the system and try to solve the problem. The educational reforms in England and Wales involve a complex equation for how universities are funded. From the introduction of this system, universities sought ways to maximize their funding, in part, by playing within the rules of the system and, in part, by finding ways to subvert the system to their benefit. This is a product of both deep-seated academic practice of problem solving grounded in a healthy skepticism that any particular system of knowledge will, necessarily, provide the answers to particular problems. In other words, part of the process of exploring a problem and posing solutions is identifying the systemic causes for the problem and breaking the system when necessary.

This approach to academic problem solving is further amplified by competition. As administrators and legislators push universities and programs to compete with one another, it is natural that they will increasingly attempt to subvert the various systems set to manage or constrain that competition. This is simply the nature of academia (and I’d suggest that it is not radically different from the behavior of interests in a market economy). Various systems put in place to measure academic productivity will be broken by academics.

3. Higher Education and Markets. At the end of the day, Collini takes great pains to emphasize that competition, the language of business, and economic motivations will not work because universities do not do their best work when they are not chasing the market. Unfortunately, this is where Collini’s work falters a bit. He does little to offer a clear definition of how we know that universities are doing their best work.

This issue, of course, is the crux of Collini’s argument. It is fine to suggest that we talk about higher education in ways that more authentically reflect the motivations and practices that take place across university campuses, but it is another thing to come up with a compelling discourse, narrative, or even basic language that embodies the wide range of successful outcomes across the modern university campus. The modern university has developed in parallel with the changing economic forces, managerial attitudes, and market structures, and these cultures have shaped in uneven ways the development of disciplinary attitudes across campus. In other words, the main challenge facing how universities speak may not be an adversarial relationship between the world of higher education and the world of policy, markets, and politics, but the deep interpenetration of these worlds has done more than add a layer of “edu-speak” jargon to higher education, but transformed it at the base.

Collini’s work reflects one strand of the higher education conversation that tends to see the rarified air of pure science and the humanities as the authentic academic discourse and the language of applied science, managerialism, and markets as somehow external to the university. While I tend to agree that higher education should speak about things other than markets, business models, and competition, I also think that the strongest future for higher education involves a public language that embraces a plurality of views and discourses. 

The Northern Great Plains History Conference and the Bakken

Next fall, the Northern Great Plains History Conference will be in Grand Forks. So my colleagues and I put together a panel proposal on the Bakken.

Here it is:

The 21st-century Bakken Oil Boom in Historical Perspective

While the Bakken Oil Boom may have gone into momentary abeyance, its long shadow continues to extend over both the economy and the cultural and political imagination of North Dakota. The papers in this panel consider the technological innovations that led to the increase oil production and population, the historical context for violence in the region, and the structure of the Bakken work force as a manifestation of the 21st-centurty concerns with precarity. The final paper presents a broadly synthetic attempt to frame the Bakken at the intersection of late modernity, petroculture, and the tourist’s gaze upon an industrialized landscape. These papers offer a distinct local and early effort by historians to understand the history of the Bakken Boom and to reflect on contemporary and future challenges facing the state.

North Dakota’s Super Boom:  How Fracking Changed Production in Bakken
Clarence Herz, Department of History, North Dakota State University

From Prohibition to Safe Harbor: Reflections on the Past, Present, and Future of North Dakota’s Commercial Sex Laws
Nikki Berg Burin, Department of History, University of North Dakota

Tales of Murder and Mayhem: Historical Violence in the Bakken
Richard Rothaus, North Dakota University System 

Aliens in the Bakken: Precarity and Workforce Housing
Bret Weber, Department of Social Work, University of North Dakota

The Bakken Gaze: Tourism, Petroculture, and Modern Views of an Industrial Landscape
William Caraher, Department of History, University of North Dakota

 

A Forthcoming Book from The Digital Press: Haunted by Waters: The Future of Memory and the Red River Flood of 1997

With any luck and a little concentration, The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota will release two books next week. I already mentioned the first book yesterday: Corinth Excavations Archaeological Manual. Today’s book is a bit more close to home here in the Red River Valley: Haunted By Waters: The Future of Memory and the Red River Flood of 1997, edited by David Haeselin and the advanced writing, editing, and publishing class in the English Department at the University of North Dakota. Here’s a sneak peek at the table of contents!

HbW Caraher CoverPostcard 01

Here is press release that the class prepared announcing the book:

The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota is proud to announce the publication of Haunted by Waters, an anthology written, collected, and edited by Dr. David Haeselin and students from the writing, editing, and publishing certificate program in UND’s English department. Including new additions from various contributors and archival documents, this anthology explores the Greater Grand Forks area twenty years after the devastating Red River of the North flood of 1997.

As the twentieth anniversary of the Red River flood approaches, many citizens of Grand Forks have pushed the disaster to the back of their minds. People have since moved on, their houses rebuilt and their minds focused on the present. Grand Forks stands as a model of recovery for this reason: the city managed to recover and grow stronger. 

Scheduled for digital publication on April 20, 2017 (with a print version available from May 1, 2017 via Amazon), Haunted by Waters offers readers a new chance to explore how communities came together to face of the historic disaster, how they recovered, and, for the first time, the composition of the community that survives the disaster two decades later. 

Many University students are almost oblivious about the flood. If anything, they notice the monument standing proud and mighty near the Greenway, but few take the time to read the plaque or even approach the monument. They glimpse at it and then move on with their lives. Haunted by Waters offer readers the chance to slow down, to notice, to create a sense of memory. According to Dr. David Haeselin, the collection hopes to give these students all other readers “the occasion to look backward so that they can look forward.”

Janet Rex, librarian at the Chester Fritz, asks in her poem included in the book: “How can one convey disaster? The spaces of loss. Nothing flows so smoothly as water oozing over land, creeping through the grass, seeping into windows, cellars, filling streets like rivers, basements like pools.” Haunted by Waters tries it best to answer not just that question, but it also asks: what kind of Grand Forks do we want to see in the future? This collection provides new ways to enter to the historical conversation while also considering what it means to live in the Red River Valley today as workers, as neighbors, as authors, as professors, as students, and, most of all, as citizens. Twenty years later, these voices have more to say. 

A book release event is scheduled for Thursday, April 20 at 6:00 p.m. at Rhombus Guys Brewing Company, 116 S. Third Street. This release is being planned in coordination with the city of Grand Forks’ twentieth anniversary observation. At this event, student editors will discuss their experiences editing the book and how building their sense of memory about the flood has changed the way they see Grand Forks and the University.

The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota serves “to publish timely works in the digital humanities, broadly conceived. Whenever possible, we produce open access, digital publications, that can attract local and global audiences” and the Writing/Editing/Publishing program at UND aims to teach its students “to produce and edit documents for diverse purposes in a variety of media and contexts.” Together, Haunted by Waters has been created by its editor(s) to embody these ideas while expanding the breadth of knowledge of the Red River Valley region’s history.

 

A Forthcoming Book from The Digital Press: Corinth Excavations Archaeological Manual

This week has been pretty great. Yesterday I put the finishing touches (well, hopefully) on one of the most complex book projects to come through my little press: Corinth Excavations Archaeological Manual. The manuscript has been sent to the printer (so to speak) and proofs are apparently ready to be sent.

As I have discussed earlier, the layout of this book was pretty tricky and even yesterday, the formatting complicated even very simple edits. The result was a marathon book making session that resulted in the final draft of the book being sent off just moments before I had to go to a meeting. Phew!

The good news is that the Corinth Excavations Archaeological Manual will be read next week in digital form and, with any luck, in print shortly there after. Just to prove it, the cover is ready:

CEM CoverPrinting

The back cover reads:

The Corinth Excavations Archaeological Manual is first major field manual published from an American excavation in Greece and among a very small number of manuals published from the Eastern Mediterranean in the last generation. The appearance of this book is timely, however, as there is a growing interest in methodology and the history of excavation practices across the entire discipline of archaeology. Moreover, Corinth Excavations has long held a special place among American archaeologists in Greece as the primary training excavation for graduate students associated with the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. As a result, the field manual has a particular significance and influence among American excavators and the archaeology of Greece.

Published as a technical field manual, an archival document, and a key statement of practice from a major excavation, the Corinth Excavations Archaeological Manual presents a guide for daily procedures at the Corinth, a complete record of documentation forms used in the field, and a practical glimpse into the functioning of a complex, major, project. The manual is a landmark text appropriate for the university student, the scholar of methodology, and the working field archaeologist from the excavation team of a Corinth Excavations.

All of the authors have worked on the excavations at Corinth in various capacities. This manual was developed under the directorship of Dr. Guy Sanders by former field directors Alicia Carter and Dr. Sarah James. Additional contributions come from past and present Corinth staff including assistant director Dr. Ioulia Tzonou-Herbst, architect James Herbst, conservator Nicol Anastassatou, and archaeo-botanical specialist Katerina Ragkou. The authors would also like to recognize the contributions of the many ASCSA students that used earlier versions of this manual for their valuable feedback over the past 10 years.

As a little sneak peek, here’s a link to the downloadable packet of forms associated with book.

More on another new book tomorrow.

An Introduction to Early Christian Archaeology

My colleague and friend David Pettegrew and I have been working on a massive Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Archaeology project for the last 30 (or, like, 3) years. As an upshot of this, I’ve been able to re-familiarize myself scholarship on Late Antique and Early Christian archaeology. It is also a fortuitous time for me to renew my interest in this field. Over the past decade there has been a remarkable outpouring of good and, more importantly, interesting scholarship in this field. 

As we worked on the various manuscripts and the introduction to the Oxford Handbook, David and I got to talking about writing a short introduction to Early Christian archaeology, and we have accidentally written close to 30,000 words as a start. Over the last few weeks, we’ve also been working on grant applications to support this project. 

Here’s a rough sketch of our ideas so far:

The book will be concise (<100,000 words), emphasize the role of archaeological methods in constructing Christian identity, and intended for an audience of both scholars and students of the Early Christian world.

This book is significant in two ways. First, the field of Early Christian archaeology largely falls outside of the Anglophone academic tradition. While scholars in France, Germany, Italy, and Greece have organized the use of material culture and archaeological evidence to study Early Christianity into a distinct and thriving field (see Deichmann 1983; Frend 1996; Bowes 2008 for surveys), scholars from North America and the U.K. who have focused on objects, architecture, and materiality in the Early Christian remains scattered across the disciplines of history, art history, Early Christian and Biblical studies, and Roman, Late Antique, and Byzantine archaeology. As a result, there has been a tendency for religious studies and archaeology to talk past each other despite some recent efforts to align research questions and various classes of evidence (e.g. Koester 1995; Friesen, Schowalter, and James 2014; Harrison and Welborn 2015) or to offer an encyclopedia overview of Early Christian material culture (Finney 2017). For example, a recent volume in the Brill series Late Antique Archaeology asked the question of whether the study of Late Antiquity (generally dated to the fourth to seventh centuries AD) warranted a distinct archaeological method (Lavan and Mulryan 2013). Applying a similar question to the archaeology of Early Christianity opens both archaeology and Early Christian studies to new opportunities for reciprocal critique. The relationship between material culture and belief, the architecture of Christian ritual, and the construction of Christian identities in landscapes densely populated with pre-existing religions, monuments, and memories push the theology of the incarnation, relics, and Christian materiality from theological works and scripture to real objects, buildings, and places. An Introduction to Early Christian Archaeology looks to continue efforts begun in the Oxford Handbook to examine the confluence between Early Christian archaeology as a field and the study of the Early Christian world as a topic of transdisciplinary interest.

The second aspect that makes this work significant is that it intends to emphasize a greater degree of methodological rigor than many previous surveys. The Anglophone academic tradition can take credit for many key advances in archaeological method in the past century from stratigraphic excavation to New Archaeology, intensive pedestrian survey, phenomenological approaches to the landscape, and reception theory in art and archaeology. The application of these methods in an explicit way to Early Christian material culture introduces a more critical approach to objects, buildings, chronologies, and narrative than currently common in world archaeology. The intent of this project is to expand the interpretative potential of Early Christian archaeology by grounding it in contemporary methodology. For example, archaeological methods have offered a revised, later date for the monumentalization of the Christian landscape around the city of Corinth. The later date of several buildings has suggested that they might not reflect the rapid, fifth-century expansion of Christianity in this provincial capital, but rather the growing investment in monumentalizing theological positions in the vigorous Christological disputes of the sixth century. Case-studies like these will demonstrate the value of rigorous archaeology for both a specialist audience looking for survey of how archaeology expands what we know about Early Christian society as well as a more general audience seeking to understand how a critical, contemporary approach to Christian material culture can expand our understanding of the spread of Christianity in the ancient world.

This project extends form my work on Early Christian place (Caraher 2014a), architecture (Caraher 2014b), ritual (Caraher 2015), and memory and abandonment (2010) primarily in the hinterland of the city of Corinth. This important Roman, Late Roman, and Early Christian city had a Christian community from the first century AD and appeared in both the New Testament and both contemporary and later non-canonical works. The community becomes visible in the archaeological record in the fifth century with the construction of a series large and elaborate of basilica-style churches and through the appearance of a corpus of Christian inscriptions. Since 2003, I have also worked on two sites on Cyprus with significant Early Christian phases. The site of Pyla-Koutsopetria included a partially excavated Early Christian basilica with features distinctive to the northeastern part of the island (Caraher, Pettegrew, and Moore 2014; Caraher, Pettegrew, and More, in preparation). The site of Polis-Chrysochous, on the far western side of the island, includes two basilica-style churches, extensive burials, and a substantial body of material culture (Caraher, Papalexandrou, and Moore 2013; Caraher and Papalexandrou 2012, Caraher, Papalexandrou, and Moore, under review). Like Corinth, Cyprus also appeared in the New Testament as well as in later hagiographic, historical, and epigraphic traditions as well as leaving behind a significant archaeological record (Caraher and Gordon, forthcoming).

This work as well as the Oxford Handbook will form the basis for An Introduction to Early Christian Archaeology which will be a collaborative project with David Pettegrew at Messiah College with whom I have worked on several projects for more than a decade. Over the last four months, we inadvertently prepared a 30,000-word introduction to our Oxford Handbook. While this introduction is currently being compressed to about 8,000 words to fit the requirements of that volume, it nevertheless offers an initial framework and basis of collaboration for the short book that we intend to produce. Our current plan for the book includes the following chapters. Each chapter will emphasize a particular issue central to the study of Early Christianity from an archaeological perspective and include both a survey of key monuments, evidence, and arguments as well as a brief case study highlighting how archaeological approaches can expand how we understand the Early Christian world:  

 

Introduction. The Archaeology of Early Christianity (historiography, approaches, and concepts)

Chapter 1. The Empty Tomb: The Archaeology of the New Testament (texts and archaeological contexts in the New Testament world)

Chapter 2. The Intangible Church (Christianity and the archaeology of religious communities in the first-second centuries)

Chapter 3. The Living Dead (Christianity and the mortuary archaeology in the third century)

Chapter 4. Building the Kingdom (Analysizing Early Christian architecture in the fourth to sixth centuries)

Chapter 5. The Quest for the Holy (Christian objects and identity from late fourth to sixth centuries)

Chapter 6. Sacred Landscapes (Constructing of Christian landscapes in the fifth to sixth century)

Chapter 7. Christian Capitals (Christianizing urban space in the sixth-seventh centuries)

Conclusion

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