Symposium Schedule

Location: The Plenary on Friday, January 23 and the presentations on Saturday, January 24 will be held in MacMillan 115. This lecture hall is in the Chemistry, Geological and Environmental Sciences building on Thayer Street. The main entrance is directly across from the Sciences Library (the tall building on the corner of Waterman and Thayer). All are welcome to both of these events.

Friday, January 23

Time: 5:30, MacMillan 115

Plenary Address: Pamela Vandiver (University of Arizona, Engineering & Archaeology)

Reception: following the Plenary at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, 70 Waterman St.

Saturday, January 24 9:30am-4:00pm

Location: MacMillan 115

9:30am: Welcome and Introduction (K. Ryzewski)

Session 1, 9:45-10:55

9:45-10:10 “From studying material culture to material culture studies in the Roman East” Jeroen Poblome (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, Archaeology)

10:10-10:35 “Pottery Making, Work, and World Building: the Utah Pottery Project” Timothy Scarlett (Michigan Technological University, Industrial History and Archaeology)

The Utah Pottery Project began as a study of the social business of potting in nineteenth-century Utah, one of the “folk hearths” of the United States. In establishing the project, I sought to design a study that truly capitalized upon archaeology’s interdisciplinary potential in the broadest sense of that term, intertwining the sciences, arts, and humanities in a single intellectual effort. Now that we have demonstrated the power of this approach the study is evolving in two directions. First, my collaborators and I continue expanding archaeometric and historical analyses of trade and exchange, tracing and weighing the materiality of routes of social interaction. At the same time, we are beginning detailed study of individual potters, shops, and potting groups. The colonization of Utah provides opportunity to study individuals engaged in social processes which otherwise appear as anonymous in the archaeological record, particularly technological and landscape learning. Immigrant potters had backgrounds that varied from industrial workers and managers to artisanal apprentices. Next summer, we will begin intensive excavations at the site of the Davenport family pot shop in Parowan, Utah. This study will build an ecobiographic narrative exploring how one potting group learned to work in Utah’s alien physical and social environments.

10:35-10:55 Response and Discussion (Discussant, Elizabeth Murphy, Archaeology)

10:55-11:15 Coffee Break

Session 2, 11:15-12:25

11:15-11:40 “Architecture, Construction and Ambivalence” Lynnette Widder (Rhode Island School of Design, Architecture)

The relationship between the architect and the act of building – the historical basis for the achievement of orchestrated construction – is the transmuting reflection of the social practices in which it is embedded. Even early treatises on architecture, in which the facts of construction and of engineering are given greater weight than speculation on the acts of abstraction and projection to which they are subject in a concerted planning process, evidence a deep-rooted ambivalence about the apparent omniscience and singularity of the figure leading the work, and the inherently collective and anonymous conditions of construction. The traces of this ambivalence are retained in the matter of the built environment, and can be read as an indication of the labor relations, technological state and degree of individualism supported by the society, which realized itself in the act of building. By considering two cases from historical moments set far apart, and by acknowledging the kind of architectural historical ratiocination which allows for their decoding, this paper will describe briefly the wavering boundary between architect as author and as facilitator, as omniscient and as subordinate to labor, and the way it reflects the values of its context.

The first of these case studies relies heavily on Robin Evan’s seminal study of stereotomy, the complex perspectivally-based practice of pattern-making for the stonework needed to form geometrically-hybrid vaulted forms. Evans, interpolating from his vast knowledge and understanding of the development of Renaissance perspective, tracks the inception of projective geometry to the problem inherent in stone-cutting – that the junctures among the prismatic faces of component stones demanded a level of precision not achievable by means of empirical, ad-hoc or on-site adjustments. As such, stereotomy demanded an interplay of abstract imagination, codified communication through drawing and projection, a specific state of craft, and access to a precise palette of materials, labor structures and technologies.

The second case study is drawn from the 1920s, in Germany, and represents an entirely different approach to the problems of abstraction, communication, craft, technology and most significantly, the expressive potential of architecture. Walter Gropius, an architect known best for his career of self-aggrandizement, published his work while director of the Dessau Bauhaus in a book entitled, appropriately, Bauhausbauten Dessau. By studying the Törten Siedlung, a middle class housing development on the outskirts of Dessau, and the way in which Gropius chose to publish it in this book, part of the Bauhaus-produced series of monographs published under his directorship, the value of architecture – both as practice and as physical outcome – as litmus test for its societal context is evidenced.

11:40-12:05 “A Tale of Two Castles: An archaeological consideration of design” Christopher Witmore (Brown University, Archaeology)

The work of design has taken on an expanded scope over the last ten years. It was not so very long ago that design was understood as the aesthetic veneer to the stuff created by engineers. Function was commonly separated from design. While design is admittedly a contested field of practices, this bifurcation of form and function is no longer the case. From the teapots of Donald Norman and the toothpicks of Henry Petroski to sustainable buildings, landscapes, cities, genes, or even environments, design has come to encompass the making of myriad things. In this paper, I wish to situate ‘design’ as a concern around which archaeologists, artists, engineers and industrial designers may assemble. To this end, I offer an archaeological engagement with a castle in the Greek Peloponnesus: Acrocorinth. This castle tale provides an occasion for me to further articulate the peculiar contribution of archaeology to design. This contribution will be sketched through two concerns related to ‘designing collectives’ and ‘collective design.’

NOTE: the original design of this paper included a second castle, the Larissa of Argos. In order to respect the 25 minutes set aside for the presentations, I have decided to stick to the slopes above Corinth.

12:05-12:25 Response and Discussion (Discussant, Amanda Lahikainen, History of Art and Architecture)

12:25-2:00 Lunch Break

Session 3, 2:00-3:35

2:00-2:25 “Conjectures on the confluence of archeology and engineering; what’s in it for you? What’s in it for me?” Christopher Bull (Brown University, Engineering)

2:25-2:50 “Sharpening Archaeological Visibilities of Metalworking with Interdisciplinary Tools” Krysta Ryzewski (Brown University, Archaeology & Engineering)

Using archaeological examples of the 18th-century ironmaking industry in Rhode Island, this paper discusses what archaeologists can and cannot ‘see’ through traditional archaeological laboratory practices and theoretical perspectives, and through the incorporation of (archaeologically) less familiar approaches from fields of engineering, design studies, history, and geology. The resulting visibilities raise several questions: How/Does the integration of multiple lines of inquiry and an engagement in trans-disciplinary techniques ultimately enrich archaeological understandings of production processes and technological developments? How far do our non-archaeologicial inquiries need to travel to remain useful and relevant to our disciplinary-based research questions? Can archaeologically-situated knowledge offer anything unique to other disciplines’ research?

2:50-3:15 “Ancient Greek Painting in the Making: Alchemy, Science, Philosophy and Art” Ioanna Kakoulli (UCLA & Getty Museum, Archaeology & Engineering)

Painting during the Late Classical and Hellenistic period was beyond the alluring composition of beautiful colors. Studies both of the ancient literary sources and of surviving examples of painting between the fourth and the first century BC have shown how pictorial representations — something like what we understand by painting today — was born in this period. But it takes science to explain both in art historical and technical aspects the development of pictorial means, such as, the use of shading, three-dimensionality, spatial perspective, transparent paint layers, and gilding, that were used to achieve their diverse effects, styles and compositions.

3:15-3:35 Response and Discussion (Discussant, Carolyn Swan, Archaeology)

3:35-3:50 Concluding Remarks (Sue Alcock, Archaeology)

Sunday January 25

9-11:30am (coffee and light breakfast)

Workshop, Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, 70 Waterman St.

The workshop will involve informal discussions of points raised in they symposium and future directions for interdisciplinary collaborations (open to symposium participants, faculty and graduate students)