Sunday, 27 April 2014

Digging taskscapes

It should be extremely easy writing this blog after two weeks juggernauting first around Finland visiting relatives in different kinds of typically Finnish settings - a new 'self'built detached house, small independent 20th century farm with its buildings from the different phases of its residential history and an older detached house - and then attending the Nordic TAG and holding a session. Sadly, the whirlwind of it all is getting best of me. And I have to spare some innovative thinking to my many applications. I basically have to tackle three this week. I will definitely bury myself in the library, storage room and study during my coming stay in Rome. I really have to concentrate on research for change in the nearest future.

Our Landscapes of temporalities and activities was lively - also in the ways unexpected. The programme was living until the day with people dropping out relatively late and special requests made. However, the end result was a series of interesting papers that all discussed the subject matter from different angles. We heard about start pistol shots over lakes with rock art or Sámi sieidi sites. We were introduced to the secret pagan shrines in the fifth century Athens. We heard about the meshwork at Stone Age quarries in Norway and Devil's swans in Karelia. Not to mention the sealscapes of the disappeared seal species in the Baltic Sea. I made the audience dead quiet more than once - I seem to have that special touch - but everything was lighthearted and serious at the same time. We did not discuss as much as the colleagues in the Sámi session, but the session was definitely alive.

The reoccurrent theme in the conference was multi-, inter- and transdisciplinarity. It was fascinating how the papers complaining the lack of wider understanding of other disciplines we work with and from their part the deeper knowledge of archaeology were presented in different sessions specialising on the questions of different subdisciplines at the different ends of the science - history spectrum. It is clear that the field of archaeology is wider than ever and one person cannot handle everything. The funding bodies seem to love archaeological science, but the historians have self-respect. Since the dawn of archaeology the discipline has fluctuated between positivism and idealism and the practitioners of these strands tend to 'settle' in different camps and represent different subdiscipline. This time it was pity, since the paper in the science session got discussion going, and if the two papers in question had been presented in an integrated session - we would have had a long and lively discussion!

PS. The papers of the 2012 Oulu Nordic TAG are now available at the Monographs of the Archaeological Society of Finland web site. Sounds Like Theory to me...

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