Posted by: Johan Normark | November 6, 2010

Water and smoothening processes

The fifth and final level of my “plateaus” of water as archaeological material will, contrary to the other plateaus, not see water as a material actively used in creating assemblages and striating space. Water finds its way out of all apparatuses of captures or it dissolves them from within. At the end water destroys all striations, it smoothens space, it evaporates, and leak. Water destroys buildings, and other signs of the State through erosion, tsunamis, hurricanes, sea level rising, etc. The processes of deterioration where water, from an anthropocentric perspective, negatively affect other assemblages will be the focus for this case study.

Such processes can still have tremendous affects on assemblage formation. For example, the 2004 tsunami affected a wide coastal area surrounding the Indian Ocean. Different areas have recovered quicker than others. Not much of the tsunami can be seen in the touristic areas of Thailand, apart from new signs showing escape routes. In Aceh on Sumatra, the situation is different. Here, most coastal buildings were destroyed but some of those that remained largely intact were mosques since they were better built. This is by some groups seen as a divine miracle ( Here water acts as a catalyst for a religious and political assemblage. Likewise, the devastations of repetitive hurricanes once or twice every decade and severe droughts every 50-60 years in the Maya area affected several assemblages.

However, the focus for this plateau will be the slow destruction of monument, the sprawling vegetation and soil covering the monuments, a growth fueled by water which counteracted the striations of the State. First the monuments were eroded by heavy rain, after vegetation meshed with the buildings the roots cracked the stucco and mortar. Finally, vegetation covered and protected the buildings from rain until modern archaeological excavations uncovered and exposed them to direct rainfall again. The causative agent in the process of destruction, of forgetting, but at the same time memorializing the monuments (Stanton and Magnoni 2008), was water. The rainclouds, considered to be the breath of ancestors, swept in and fertilized vegetation that ultimately buried the temples at the same time. Water territorialized the ancestral identity by concealing ruins with vegetation at the same time it deterritorialized the State assemblages.



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