“Since , O Mazda from the beginning, Thou didst create soul and body, mental power and knowledge , and since Thou didst bestow to mankind the power to act , speak and guide , you wished that everyone should chose their own faith and path freely.”

Zaratostra - Yasna 31, Verse 11

One who always thinks of his own safety and profit, how can he love the joy-bringing Mother Earth? The righteous man that follows Asha's Law shall dwell in regions radiant with Thy Sun, the abode where wise ones dwell.”

Zaratostra Yasna, Verse 2

Monday, February 21, 2011

Abstract for the Symposium by Associate Professor Louise A. Hitchcock

Archaeology and Sedimented Identities:
Trauma, Migration, and Performativity in the Late Bronze Age Mediterranean
While we tend to think practically of distance as something that can be measured in time and space, distance can also be conceptual in terms of the time and obstacles actually encountered in transcending it, and it can be cultural through the confrontation with ‘Otherness.’ I plan to explore conceptual and cultural distance in the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1700-1180 BCE), in terms of how identity was acted out through performativity, as well as how identity was affected by violence, migration, and diaspora. Although this period is frequently treated as a seamless progression, it was punctuated by moments of violence and destruction, both natural and cultural. Little work has been done on the human toll taken by these events, which are frequently treated as stylistic categories of art that signal the passage of time.  Thus, such events have not been adequately explored as moments or sites of human trauma and identity formation.  As a preliminary exploration of these issues, I will consider destructions caused by the volcanic eruption of Thera (ca. 1614 BCE), and the violent destructions of the Minoan (ca. 1470/1450 BCE. Crete) and the Mycenaean civilisations (ca. 1180 BCE, Greece). In this pilot study, I will engage with modern ethnohistory and ethnography as an analog for raising questions about how ancient events affected individuals who can only speak to us through the material and spatial residues of their culture.

Louise Hitchcock is Associate Professor of Aegean Bronze Age Archaeology and Chair of the Classics and Archaeology Program at the University of Melbourne. Louise also has a minor in social theory and she has written many books and articles exploring the relationship between archaeology and theory. Her current research deals with Aegean, Cypriot, and Levantine connections, particularly Philistine identity and its Aegean connections. The Australian Research Council funds her excavations at the Philistine site of Tell es-Safi/Gath.

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