Ruth Tringham. Basket Voices (without words) at Çatalhöyük, Turkey.

Ruth Tringham will present at the Archeological Encounters Seminar on Tuesday, March 24, at 6 pm. Her talk is entitled “Do Baskets Speak? Creating Afterlives of an Archaeological Project at Neolithic Çatalhöyük.”

When we publish the final report of an archaeological project, we tend to think of it as the culmination of its life journey through time, but it seems to me “rather the point of departure from which a new journey begins”—an afterlife. By afterlives I am talking about the narratives that remediate or are drawn out of the primary content and documents of archaeological projects. In this presentation, I will discuss this concept through my own experience of creating afterlives of archaeological projects, starting in the completely born-analog context of archaeological excavations in southeast Europe. Analog documents (printed texts and photos, film, tapes etc.) have different challenges to their modification (remediation) and different sensorial affects from those created digitally. I was acutely aware of these differences during the BACH (Berkeley Archaeologists @ Çatalhöyük 1997–2004) project that covered the transition in the documentation (especially through audio-visual media) of archaeological fieldwork from predominantly born-analog to born-digital. It is not simply the technological audio-visual prowess, speed, and efficiency of digital documents; digital afterlives allow us to engage the audience in the transparency of the creative path from data to imagination, forefronting the ambiguity of the archaeological record. This presentation explores the many different forms that afterlives of archaeological projects can take (including some recent experiments), keeping long dead projects alive and sustained.

Ruth Tringham is a Professor of the Graduate School (Anthropology) at the University of California, Berkeley and received her PhD in Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on the transformation of early (Neolithic) agriculturalists, and the establishment of households as the primary unit of social reproduction. She has directed and published archaeological excavations in Southeast Europe (Selevac and Opovo in Serbia, and Podgoritsa in Bulgaria) and, most recently, the BACH project at Çatalhöyük, Turkey. After the BACH project, she continued fieldwork at Çatalhöyük until 2007 on the Remediated Places project involving the creation of interpretive video-walks. She also was a project leader on the prize-winning Remixing Çatalhöyük project and the Okapi Island project, a mirror of Çatalhöyük in the virtual world of Second Life. Most of her recent and current practice of archaeology incorporates re-contextualizing digital primary archaeological data (including media) to create their afterlives in the form of database narratives and recombinant histories about people, places and things. In doing so, she combines the use of imagination, multisensorial experience, and gamification to engage a broader public in alternative scenarios about the prehistoric past.