Posted by: Johan Normark | February 2, 2010

Water as archaeologial material

I have just finished and sent my application to Rikbankens Jubileumsfond. Only four applications remain (two by myself and two with Per Cornell). Here follows a translated abstract:

Neomaterialist social sciences and humanities have a renewed interest in materials and their properties. What we know, think, express, say, understand and write has a material and prediscursive content. Material properties set limits and create opportunities for technological and social development depending on the capabilities of materials to mesh with other materials. In archeology, the focus is often set on materials that are solid at normal Earth temperatures (metal, wood, bone and stone). One of the most common and most important, but least studied materials is water.

The objective of this research is threefold: (1) to develop an archaeology of materials that sets material properties in focus and show how these connect to and merge with other materials in various assemblages that includes people and practices. (2) to exemplify this approach with water on a multi-scalar level: from water molecules to organisms, artefacts, architecture, sites, states, oceans and climate systems. (3) to show how changes in intensity create various emerging assemblages. Fluid water, vapour and ice have different levels of intensity and hence create different potentials for emergent assemblages.

The project begins with southern Mexico during Prehispanic times but this non-linear approach will also include comparative empirical examples from a global perspective. The project will highlight the catalytic properties of water during the emergence of pottery, architecture, agriculture and climate change.



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