Gathering

Theoretical Archaeology Group Conference 2016: University of Southampton

The 19th of December has been a day to gather in the old port City of Southampton. Freed from the distractions of seasonal shopping frenzy going on about the City, we are attending the annual Theoretical Archaeology Group conference; a forum for: pretty much anything goes in current archaeological thinking and practice.

This is just the beginning, yet there is a buzz of reunion and shared interests that unite conversations all around the venue. Once again, the energy of a space filled with people, drawn together with purpose and enthusiasm for our diverse area of study, work and play. Yes, the sparkle that lights up in eyes as tales of archaeological discoveries, projects and research are shared is tangible.

On the journey to Southampton we stopped for coffee under a looming communications tower; a totem that has come to define many of our modern landscapes. It struck me that we are not only gathering to communicate our ideas, experiences and opinions, as dictated by tradition, but also to share how we communicate beyond our professional community.

The first session I attended was Sightations Cafe: a collection of projects that have delivered archaeological and historic interpretation through the media of performance, comics, gameplay, sculpture, screenprint, deeper ways of looking at archaeological site plans and even LEGO – the plastic building blocks of imaginations young and old. The thread running through this diverse group of methods was one of making an interpretation accessible and fun. A narrative presented from the persective of a place, artefacts, animals, people and events; all actors in communicating the essence of a story.

Winter is a season to gather around the hearth and share tales as old as language itself. Today has inspired different ways to reach out with stories old and new.

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