Montgomery Hall

This morning, I’m going on a little tour of Montgomery Hall with both thee Grand Forks Historic Preservation Commission and representatives of University of North Dakota’s facilities department. The plan is to run another one-credit course on the history of this building, its place on our campus, and most interestingly for me, how the physical fabric preserves signs of adaptation and reuse.

Montgomery Hall on the UND campus is an example of the Tudor Revival architectural style The hall was designed by architect Joseph Bell DeRemer and built in 1911 to be the dining hall for students

The original building dates to 1911, and unlike most of the campus from the 1920s on, this building is in the Tudor Revival style. It stands set back from University avenue and represented a nice example of the first major wave of campus expansion under President Frank McVey. Originally, it served as the Commons for the university, but in 1929, it was adapted for use as the university library which had outgrown the contemporary Carnegie Library. It served as the library until the opening of the Chester Frtiz Library in the late 1950s. After that time, the building, presumably rechristened Montgomery Hall, served as faculty offices, classrooms, and in the 21st century, as the deanery first for the College of Arts and Sciences and then for the Graduate School.

Today, the building is mostly empty and ready for its ascent to the great campus plan in the sky. The University is planning to build the new business school on the lot to take advantage of the frontage onto University Avenue and the proximity to Gamble Hall which currently houses the College of Business and Public Affairs. As part of the mitigation efforts, the University is doing the equivalent of a HABS level-2 documentation on the building before it demolition (and I can’t say enough about the current administration’s willingness to take historical documentation seriously). I plan to work with a group of students to understand the traces of history left on the building’s fabric over time following a model that we developed with the Wesley College Documentation Project.  

The challenge for me, though, is to also think about how to make this project different from what we did with Wesley College. Recent work in the archaeology of the contemporary world has shaped my recent ways of thinking about how we document and understand campus buildings. The kind of archaeological documentation that I prefer (because I luv data) can subordinate our understanding of these buildings to the routine of our method and rob the experience of being in the spaces of vitality, foreclose a certain amount of creativity, and narrow our view of how buildings make meaning. 

Because these buildings are slated for destruction and no longer “living buildings” on campus, it seems like we have opportunities to do things that celebrate the liminal state of these structures: no long in use, but not yet destroyed. Rather than looking at all aspects of what is inside these buildings as evidence for the past, we can try to find ways of understanding these buildings as they exist in the contemporary. How are they changing? How are they producing meaning? Literally, what are these buildings doing

I know this sounds a bit slippery and elusive, but I hope that by asking these kinds of tricky questions and maybe even thinking about these buildings in different way and with different notions of time will open some productive possibilities. 

Abandonment and Post-Medieval Butrint

I don’t get much random reading in during the summer, in part, because I’m trying to be disciplined and, in part, because my time isn’t entirely my own on various archaeological project. This week, however, I made an exception and read David Hernandez’s article on Butrint in the most recent Hesperia.

The article is a wonderful archaeological synthesis of the final three centuries of primarily Venetian settlement in the city. He grounded his arguments for the conditions of the Venetian community at Butrint on several carefully excavated contexts derived from three 14th-century Venetian houses. The botanical remains provide insights into the diet of the residents of these houses which included the usual staples of grains, olives, grapes, and fava beans. Small finds included a thimble, kitchen utensils, and pottery. A more detailed description of the pottery would have been useful for considering the role of ceramics and metal vessels in the daily life of residents. The study of a small group of burials and human remains provides a chilling view of the health of residents in the settlement at the end of its life. I was amused that Venetian House I reused part of a Late Roman building. The Late Romans, of course, were famous for reoccupying and adapting earlier structures for domestic purposes.    

What is more remarkable, however, is that he considers the fate of Butrint after the end of Venetian settlement when most scholars had considered the city abandoned. Documentary sources, maps, paintings, and other records combined with the interpretation of small and stray finds to demonstrate that the “abandoned” landscape of Butrint was, in fact, socially and economic active. The malarial conditions brought about by the unchecked growth of local coastal marshlands, the location of the site at the periphery of the Venetian and Ottoman state, and the tension between local Albanian tribes and the communities seeking to systematically exploit the resources around Butrint shaped the character of abandonment.   

Finally, Hernandez emphasized that the “post-abandonment” exploitation of the area around Butrint as part of the long-standing relationship between Butrint and the neighboring island of Corfu. In fact, for much of its modern history, the island of Corfu depended on Butrint for food, wood, and exchange commodities, particularly fish. The proximity and interdependence ensured that despite the marginal character of the marshlands around Butrint, the fisheries, wildlife, and agriculture remained available for exploitation. 

The article does a much better job presenting the complexities of the post-Medieval history of Butrint than this post lets on. Do check it out!

Assemblages and the 8th Century

One of the things heard among archaeologists of the Eastern Mediterranean is that the 7th century is the new 6th century. We’re living in an era during which the “Long Late Antiquity” is becoming even longer. 

In the Western Argolid in Greece, I’ve been lucky enough to work with a few Late Roman sites and assemblages both from our survey and in well-known sites in the area. My colleague Scott Gallimore and I can legitimately talk about a 7th century landscape that appears quite distinctive from earlier centuries but also shows significant signs of continuity.

At Polis Chrysochous on Cyprus, Scott Moore and I have worked on two 7th century assemblages: one from the South Basilica that we’ll publish this winter in Hesperia, and this summer we worked on a little site called EF1

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The intriguing thing about the site of EF1 is not in its architecture or even its archaeology, but that a burial with a lead sealing and a clear abandonment deposit with another lead sealing dates the destruction or abandonment of this site to sometime in the very early 8th century. The assemblage of material from the site, however, lacked many of the late-7th century artifacts that we saw across the street at the site of the South Basilica. The missing artifacts included the well-known Cypriot Red Slip “Well Form,” (dated to after 630 in a context in Anemurium) Dhiorios wares, or the last in the sequence of Late Roman Amphora (like LR13). 

We have dated the assemblage at the South Basilica to the end of the 7th century and this assemblage dates a major modification to the building’s structure. Now, however, we’re wondering whether this is really an early 8th century assemblage. The argument might go like this. Both the South Basilica assemblage and the various assemblages present at EF1 derive from secondary contexts – floor packing, construction fills, and various other levels that do not reflect use. The processes that account for the development of these assemblage took place over rather long periods of time and, as a result, the assemblages tend to have numerous examples of residual artifacts that represent a wide range of cultural and natural processes leading to their appearance in an archaeological context. In general, it appears that the material in the neighborhood of EF1 and the South Basilica derived from the nearby cite of Arsinoe (ancient Polis) and localized industrial activities. It seems reasonable to assume that the northern area of Late Antique Arsinoe saw burials, industrial activity (which took advantage of the downslope flow of water in the area), and other installations that tended to be situated on the outskirts of a Late Roman urban area.

The difference in the two assemblages in similar nearby secondary context got me thinking about both how these two groups of pottery formed over time. I had rather naively assumed that the date of the contexts was probably a couple or three decades after the latest material in the fills. This would allow for a significant enough signature of pottery to enter a particular context for it to become archaeologically visible. As I think about the South Basilica assemble, it has occurred to me that if our typical late-7th century material does not appear at EF1 where we have a pretty good date marking the abandonment of the building at this. Maybe that means that the modifications to the South Basilica has an early- to mid-8th century date?

Maybe in a few years, the 8th will be the new 7th century and on we’ll go!

Lakka Skoutara: (Almost) 20 Years at a Rural Site in Greece

This past week, David Pettegrew and I revisited the rural site of Lakka Skoutara in the southeastern Corinth. This is a settlement that developed over the course of the  first half of the 20th century with around 15 houses loosely clustered around a rural crossroad with a church dedicated to Ay. Katerini. There is also the crusher base for what must have been an olive press that likely dates to before the 20th century settlement, a number of impressive threshing floors, and series of cisterns providing water to this dry upland depression. Residents from the nearby village of Sophiko had occupied the houses in this valley periodically over the course of the 20th century usually during the harvest. There were periods when residents lived more or less full time in these houses in an effort to escape from the mid-century disruptions of World War II and the Greek Civil War. In 2001, we visited the valley and found that the houses were in various states of abandonment that ranged from total abandonment to occasional use and seasonal re-use.

The goal of our visit yesterday was to see how houses that we have documented (somewhat) regularly over the last 19 years were holding up. The initial goal of the project, when we started it, was to use these houses to think about formation processes in the Greek countryside. This visit was our first since 2009 (although we seem to recall a visit in 2012, but so far we can’t seem to find the photographic evidence for that trip). Having decade between visits meant that we had to get re-oriented to the area, but after a bit we were able to find our study houses, take some (but not nearly enough) photographs, and think about change (while) in the Greek countryside.

We have three snap impressions from our day wandering this settlement:

1. Houses fall down at an irregular pace. One thing that we certainly noticed is that relatively little had changed for buildings whose walls had collapsed prior to our first visit in 2001. In some cases, the walls were more visible because of changes in vegetation. But the general character of the collapse and associated material appeared more or less unchanged with some of the same scatters of artifacts present collapsed houses being more or less stable over the past 10 years.

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The reasons for this are, of course, obvious. The largely collapsed houses are less the focus of human activity and, as a result, less susceptible to various curation strategies and various other intentional and accidental human interventions. The remains of these houses are more resistant to various natural processes as most of the vulnerable elements in the houses have already given way, collapsed, or otherwise deteriorated. The remains, for example, of a brick and tile oven look essentially the same after 10 years.  

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2. Wall plaster disappears quickly. When we first encountered House 14 in 2001, it had some of its roof intact as well as plaster on its exterior walls and on a plaster-and-lathe dividing wall that originally separated two rooms. By 2009, the roof had collapsed and exposed the walls and the plaster-and-lathe wall had fallen to the floor. In 2018, most of the plaster had melted from the exterior walls and the plaster on the lathe wall had vanished to the point where the wall was no longer visible.

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3. Continuous Change. One of the less surprising aspects of Lakka Skoutara is the continuous change to the region and to its buildings. In one house, that appeared to be maintained but not in significant use, a plaster-and-lathe dividing wall was carefully removed. 

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Another house, constructed of cinderblocks in rough courses received a new balcony and a series of nicely built patios suggesting a transition from a kind of rough functionality to perhaps a more recreational purpose.

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The western part of the Lakka has seen the development of all sorts of new structures.

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These include some curious examples of reuse.

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Lakka Skoutara remains a dynamic landscape even in “abandonment.”

Call for Papers: Archaeology and Social Justice

I was pretty excited to see the theme of this year’s Joukowsky Institute of Archaeology and the Ancient World workshop: archaeology and social justice. Here’s a link to the call for papers or, if you’re too lazy to click on a link, you can read it below!

It would be very cool to see something at this conference on the archaeology of care or even the recent discussion about the value of punk archaeology as an ethical critique. 

So check out the call for papers below: 

State of the Field 2018: Archaeology and Social Justice

Friday, March 2 – Saturday, March 3, 2018
Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island

Brown University’s Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World will host a workshop called State of the Field 2018: Archaeology and Social Justice on March 2-3, 2018. The workshop will be the culmination of two years of discussion on this theme, and is also intended to raise new issues, ask new questions, and encourage ongoing dialogue. Our gathering builds on a tradition of “State of the Field” workshops hosted by the Joukowsky Institute to reflect upon trends in archaeological work, each year focusing our discussion on issues impacting an area of particular interest to our faculty and students. While previous versions have dealt with a country or region of archaeological significance, this year’s event will focus on archaeology’s relationship to ongoing movements for social justice.

Within the context of archaeology, we conceive of social justice as pertaining to issues of privilege and opportunity that affect the makeup of scholars in the field, efforts among archaeologists to engage with the public and with broader social and political discussions, and the degree to which archaeological scholarship and pedagogy intersect with or impact these issues. It also refers to the asymmetries of power and structural inequalities in society at large. This choice of topic has been inspired by recent global social and political concerns, responses from universities and academia that seek to address issues of representation and access, and, most importantly, grassroots movements for social justice.

This workshop thus seeks to engage primarily with the role of archaeology in contemporary social justice movements, while insisting that discussions of diversity in the past can inform experience in the present. We welcome papers that explore the relationship between archaeology and the present political climate, with the intention of addressing the challenges currently facing the field of archaeology and the academy more broadly. We also seek to engage in conversations about the biases and structural problems that make archaeology more accessible to some than to others, in order to help the discipline reach a broader and more inclusive public.

The workshop will include four sessions, each addressing issues of the relationship of archaeology to ongoing struggles for social justice and/or the role of archaeology in those struggles. Rather than predefining the content of these sessions, we intend to shape them with contributions from this call for papers; we wish to offer an open space for discussion of the following, and other, relevant issues:

· The materiality and temporality of current social issues
· Disciplinary decolonization
· Archaeology’s role in discussions of “diversity and inclusion”
· Identity and inequality in the past and present
· Structural and practical access to archaeology and the academy
· Activism and engagement within archaeology
· Archaeology in/of social justice movements
· Archaeology’s relationship to white nationalism
· Archaeology in moments of crisis

To submit a proposal for a paper of approximately 20 minutes, please send an abstract of 350 words or less to Joukowsky_Institute@brown.edu by October 1, 2017.

For questions about this CFP, or about the conference, please see our conference website or email Joukowsky_Institute@brown.edu.

More on Abandonment in the Bakken

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been documenting the gradual abandonment of workforce housing across the Bakken oil patch. The reasons for abandonment of workforce housing are complex. Oil prices slipping below $40 triggered a slowdown in drilling in the region and drilling was the most workforce intensive part of the oil extraction. The growth of pipeline networks that move processed water, oil, and gas around the Bakken has reduced the need for truck drivers and the need for truck repair shops. Williston and Watford City have built (and probably overbuilt) permanent housing for workers involved in longterm work in the Bakken. These factors have combined to reduce the need and demand for workforce housing across the area.

The most visible and well-documented examples of this reduced demand have been the large workforce housing sites like Capital Lodge, outside Tioga, which have closed and currently sit waiting some future plan to either transport the units elsewhere or to redevelop the site. Myriad small RV parks also are being closed or abandoned, albeit to less fanfare and media coverage. Our trip the Bakken this past weekend focused on documenting the abandonment process at these various sites.

I can offer three observations.

1. Orderly abandonment. Despite the prevailing caricature of feral men in the Bakken, there are many signs that the abandonment of even the rougher RV parks was an orderly process. The gravel paved lots were generally clean and tidy with less trash than one might even expect from typical habitation. Occasionally one or two lots have more debris associated with them suggesting that the last RV to depart the camp was less inclined to leave things tidy. One might imagine that this was the caretaker or manager who may have even departed after regular trash collection had ended.

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Despite the general cleanliness, most sites had some fragments of PVC piping, extruded polystyrene insulation, and wood – often from shipping pallets – scattered about as well considerable quantities of gravel or scoria used to level the sites and promote drainage. 

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2. Economic choices. Some camps that are largely abandoned provide explanations for the seemingly orderly abandonment of sites. As we have noted throughout our research in the Bakken, camps regularly maintain assemblages of provisional discard around their peripheries. The short-term nature of these settlements created a constant supply (and demand) for discarded objects.

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As camps reached total abandonment, the collection of materials often showed signs of orderly arrangement that suggests formal recycling of materials. One camp near Alexander was removing around 100 mobile homes and neatly arranged skirting, stairs, gutters, and other parts of these units that could not be affixed during transport. 

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The piles of metal often found around the periphery of camps suggests formal recycling.

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This organization of objects around the margins of camps suggests economic decisions contributed to the tidiness of camps at abandonment rather than an aesthetic ideal or a response to a municipal policy.

One of the more interesting examples of this was the Great American Lodge near Watford City. The camp closed in 2015 after the company that ran it came into financial difficulties. In fact, the entire operation may have been part of a ponzi scheme. Despite that, the camp represented millions of dollars of investment and when a company purchased its movable assets from receivership, they began the expensive and time consuming process of removing the units from the site. This will likely take most of the winter and be a deliberate process allowing the company to extract the most valuable from the camps.  

3. Abandoned homes. While mobile homes can often be prepared for transport and removed from the site for use elsewhere, it is not uncommon for RVs to be abandoned in camps as the owners encountered financial difficulties or left the region without wanting to incur the expense of removing their RV. 

In the past, T.J.s Salvage Yard would remove abandoned RVs for a fee, but they are so overwhelmed with units and the decline in short-term residents of the Bakken living in RVs has reduced the demand for salvage parts.

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As a result, RV park owners often simply remove RVs to the margins of their parks since they have more room than residents.

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The RVs are often just as residents left them with pots and pans, electronics, and even personal information sitting out.

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4. Squatting. As in the past, we were able to observe some subtle hints that squatting was taking place in the Bakken. What is bizarre to us is that a number of camps made of mobile homes or mobile lodging units have unlocked doors and continue to have electricity and even heat making them inviting homes for people moving through the area looking to live off the grid at very low expense. 

5. Longterm impact. Despite the tidiness of the abandoned camps, we do recognize that the sites of RV parks and more formal workforce housing camps have a longterm impact on the environment. Whether the persistence of plastic and insulation or the smear of gravel or greater density of weeds, the site will continue to be marked for future archaeologists.

Buried infrastructure, presents a particular kind of ruin that will encounter a particular kind of entropy and ruination into the future. (As a compelling example of this, the reclamation efforts associated with the Tesoro oil spill uncovered a well pad from the 1950s oil boom that had been buried and lost).

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 Things like the weeds that push through the gravel associated with housing sites will create lasting signatures in the landscape. The ruins of the future won’t be visible in the same way as the ruins of the past.

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Abandonment and the Bakken Again

This weekend we’re heading back to the Bakken oil patch to look at some of our long-term study sites. As folks know, the Bakken has seen a steady decline in activity over the last two years with oil production slipping to under 1 million barrels per day this month, for the first time since 2014 (this is an interesting table (pdf)) and has only 36 active rigs this month down from 194 in 2014. We already know that many of the temporary workforce housing sites in this region which supported the massive influx of workers needed at the height of the boom are now closed, abandoned, or well below capacity. We anticipate a Bakken landscape that has preserved irregular traces of its bustling (and recent) past.

As a fortuitous coincidence, Kostis Kourelis has been posting about slightly more distant, but still modern abandonments over at his blog and reflecting on the traces left behind by the massively disruptive, but ultimately short-lived military activities associated with World War Two and the Greek Civil War. He cites the work of Dimitris Papadopoulos on the region of Prespa lakes in Macedonia. Papadopoulos documented the abandoned villages preserved in a the large, transnational nature preserve that extends into Greece, Albania, and Macedonia. These villages were abandoned as part of the final stages of nation building in this region as beginning with the transfer of the areas Turkish-speaking Muslim population in the 1920s and concluding with the departure of the Slavic speaking population during the Greek Civil War (1946-1949). 

[As a digression, the Prespa lakes area of Greece is one of the most stunning parts of the country and the region. I had the great fortune of scouting this area at a leisurely pace for an American School of Classical Studies trip in September of 2007. I guess I was writing my blog back then, because I have some great photos (who took them? me? is that even possible?) from my travels including a freak mini-blizzard while crossing the mountains west of Florina! Check it out here. I wish I had known of Papadopoulos’s work then.]

For Papadopoulos, the work of abandonment was embedded in a complex process of nation building, demarcation of borders, and internal colonialization which led to acts of erasure across the dynamic landscape. This may seem quite remote from the processes at play in the Bakken, but I’d argue that economic practices – particularly those associated with large scale and industrialized resource extraction – create similar landscapes of abandonment and erasure. The desire to render processes invisible to history (and archaeology) by disguising or removing the physical manifestation of the work. In most cases, the removal of temporary equipment, housing, and the workforce reflects the pressures of efficiency and economy, but this should not diminish the visual and ideological value of these actions. Temporary housing is only remarkable, for example, because we expect housing (or the home) to represent a permanent investment in a place. The arrival and departure of specialized equipment and workforce reflects the centralized nature of both capital and technology and the peripheral or even marginal nature of many (but certainly not all) extractive practices in the global landscape.    

At the same time, they scar the landscape in indelible ways that preserve the absent presence of the past. My soon to be published tourist Guide to the Bakken is filled with chimerical images that will blink in and out of the viewers gaze when, book in hand, they transit the Bakken region. This weekend, I’m going to be particularly attuned to the present-absences in the Bakken and the ways that these traces mark and define the landscape. 

The Temples of Noricum and Panonia

The destruction of temples in Late Antiquity has long conjured images of fanatical Christians destroying pagan temples and violently ending traditional, urban and monumental religious practices. Even in antiquity, this view of Christianity carried some prestige with texts like the Life of Porphyry of Gaza depicting the violent destruction of the great temple of Zeus in that city. The vivid descriptions in texts like this seemed ripe for generalization, and the destruction of temples became a fixture in how many scholars understood archaeological evidence from around the Roman world.   

Scholarship over the last 40 years has challenged this long-held view and hinted that pagan practices were not static but constantly changing and that practices associated with monumental temples was in abeyance or decline. In other words, we might see Christian “attacks” on pagan temples as salvage operations for building materials rather than efforts to destroy thriving pagan worship sites. The challenge associated with unpacking the final days of these temples is that the early excavation dates, complex urban histories, and underdeveloped ceramic typologies compromised our ability to make sense of the archaeological evidence from these buildings. 

David Walsh’s recent article in the American Journal of Archaeology offers a serious attempt to marshal the evidence from temples in Noricum and Panonia on the Roman Empire’s northern frontiers. He argues that by the late-3rd-century and into the 4th-century, the building and maintenance of urban temples declined. Since most temples were the product of public benefaction, their construction and upkeep depended upon their continued centrality to social and religious life of the communities. By the time of the Tetrarchy, he suggested that energies shifted to building walls and fortifications to protect communities from the destabilization of Rome’s northern frontier, and this contributed to a changing culture in these provinces away from monumental public religious practices and toward smaller, private temples. Walsh noted that the increased use of spolia in both public buildings and fortifications in the 4th century reflects the abandonment monumental temples. 

In Noricum and Panonia, then, the rise of monumental Christianity was likely a separate from and unrelated phenomenon to the decline in urban paganism. The rise of both Christian communities and their construction of monumental buildings in urban space. This offers a distinct context for the rise of Christianity in the 5th and 6th century. Rather than representing the replacement of monumental urban paganism with a monumental, urban Christianity, churches competed with public buildings in transformed urban landscapes of the Mediterranean. It also means that it drew resources away from public buildings (baths, basilicas, et c.) which often served non religious or civic functions for their communities. This shift not only makes manifest the growing authority of the church in religious, social, and formally civic terms, but also offers an opportunity to consider the ways in which the emergence of monumental Christianity encouraged a change in social practices in the community. For example, with resources being drawn to larger, Christian buildings in the urban core, the construction and maintenance of large bathing establishments suffered, and this might explain the tendency for bath houses to be smaller in the 6th and 7th century and the eventual decline of baths as important social places in Late Antique and Early Byzantine urban space.

The Archaeological Institute of America’s Annual Meeting in Review

After a couple of days at the AIA annual meeting in San Francisco, I started to wonder whether archaeologists should only be allowed to go to the meeting once every two or three years. This is not meant as a criticism to those there or the bustle of the conference (or the need for structured and unstructured opportunities to interact), but as a way to observe that changes in the field are thrown into high relief after taking a few years aways from the conference.

Here are a few observations:

1. Late Antiquity. When I first started to attend the AIA, panels on Late Antiquity were shoved unceremoniously into the Saturday or Sunday morning sessions, safely sequestered from the proper business of Classical archaeology. Over the past few years, however, Late Antiquity panels have migrated to the grown-up table, and this year, a panel on Greece in Late Antiquity happened at 8 am on Friday, prime time for the conference. 

The panel was a nice blend of senior scholars and new comers and established projects and new field work. The focus was on ceramics (3 papers) and to a lesser extent architecture (2 papers) and skewed later, into 6th and 7th century (4 papers) abandoning to some extent the 4th and 5th century sweet-spot favored by earlier scholars of this era. Three of the papers featured explicitly quantitative analysis, and two of the paper drew upon recent field work: a survey and an excavation. 

While 5 papers are hardly a representative sample of the work in Late Antiquity, the distribution of papers in this panel offers vague confirmation to my gut feeling that Late Antiquitists are working on later period and more fixated on ceramics than ever before.

2. Survey Archaeology. Like Late Antiquity, it wasn’t very long ago when you’d expect someone to stand up at any panel on survey archaeology and ask whether we could really base any arguments on material found on the surface. Those days have passed, it would seem (whether we have resolved the underlying issues associated with survey archaeology and formation processes or not) and the panel at this year’s AIA drew a standing room only crowd.

The papers were good, and projects appeared sound. None of the paper appear to genuinely embrace an analysis based on siteless survey, and in almost all cases preferred to talk about the landscape as a series of sites with distinct functions. At the same time, none of the paper really talked about any sites smaller than the ambiguous “settlement.” I don’t recall any farmsteads, sanctuaries, or site functions defined by size. There was also very little discussion of method.

3. Abandonment. I enjoyed the twin sessions on abandonment which both problematized abandonment as a symptom of decline, as well as a key stage in the formation of sites in the archaeological landscape. The convergence of concerns about periodization (period are frequently defined by episodes of abandonment) and archaeological formation processes points creates an intriguing and productive space around historical narratives that have become so dependent upon patterns of rise and fall. In fact, the ambiguity surrounding abandonment offered a temporary respite for anyone exhausted by popular narratives of decline that are so prevalent in our media today.

We can’t avoid change.

My Work at the Archaeological Institute of America’s Annual Meeting

Next week is the annual Archaeological Institute of America meeting. I’ve sort of avoided this meeting for the last few years largely because I am more committed to the American Schools of Oriental Research meeting which happens in the fall and I don’t quite have the energy, resources, or time to go to two meetings a year. 

But this year, I’ll go to the AIA meeting and be happy about it. I appear a few times in the program. I’m chairing a standing session on the Archaeology of Greece in Late Antiquity and co-authoring a few papers based on my research in Greece and North Dakota. I’m particularly excited about the papers on abandoned villages and see them as a bit of a follow up from a panel (and publication) that Kostis Kourelis and I organized almost 10 years ago at an AIA in San Francisco. 

If my co-authors give me permission, I’ll post drafts of these papers on the ole bloggeroo over the next week or so.

The Archaeology of Greece in Late Antiquity
Thursday, January 7
8:00-10:30 AM
Continental Ballroom 3 

8:00 House Size and Elite Inequality in Roman Greece
Kilian P. Mallon, Stanford University (15 min.)

8:20 Keeping an Even Temper in Times of Trouble: Continuity and the Maintenance of Ceramic Traditions in Late Roman Corinth
Mark D. Hammond, AIA Member at Large, and Heather Graybehl, AIA Member at Large (20 min.)

8:45 Local Prosperity and Regional Economy in Roman to Early Byzantine Greece: The American Excavations at Kenchreai, 2014–2015
Joseph L. Rife, Vanderbilt University, Jorge J. Bravo III, University of Maryland, College Park, and Sebastian Heath, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University (20 min.)

9:05 Break (10 min.)

9:15 Market Access in Late Antique Thrace: The Ceramic Perspective from Molyvoti
Alistair Mowat, University of Manitoba, Nicholas Hudson, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and Thomas F. Tartaron, University of Pennsylvania (20 min.)

9:40 Excavation in the Late Antique City at Golemo Gradište, Konjuh, 2014–2015
Carolyn S. Snively, Gettysburg College, and Goran Sanev, Archaeological Museum, Skopje (20 min.)

Aegean Survey
Friday, January 8, 2015
Continental Ballroom 3

11:50 The Western Argolid Regional Project: Results of the 2015 Season
Sarah James, University of Colorado, Boulder, Dimitri Nakassis, University of Toronto, and Scott Gallimore, Wilfrid Laurier University (20 min.)

Colloquium Deserted Villages, I: Before Abandonment
Friday, January 8, 2015
Yosemite Ballroom A 

8:00 a.m.–10:30 a.m.

Sponsored by the Medieval and Post-Medieval Archaeology Interest Group
ORGANIZERS: Deborah E. Brown Stewart, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library, and Kostis Kourelis, Franklin & Marshall College

9:55 Roads, Routes and Abandoned Villages in the Western Argolid
Dimitri Nakassis, University of Toronto, William Caraher, University of North Dakota, Sarah James, University of Colorado, Boulder, and Scott Gallimore, Wilfrid Laurier University (20 min.)

Colloquium Deserted Villages, II: During and After Abandonment
Friday, January 8, 2015 
Yosemite Ballroom A 

1:45 p.m.–4:45 p.m.

1:55 Life in an Abandoned Village: The Case of Lakka Skoutara
William Caraher, University of North Dakota, and David Pettegrew, Messiah College (20 min.)

3:40 Wheelock, North Dakota: Incremental and Cyclic Abandonment on the Northern Plains
Richard Rothaus, North Dakota University System, William Caraher, University of North Dakota, and Bret Weber, University of North Dakota (20 min.)