Archaeologies of the Written Word: Examining the Importance of Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Literature

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2014

When historical archaeologists study the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, they typically focus on the physical materials that people living in the nineteenth century unintentionally left behind. But what about the writings that reflect the worldviews that were prevalent at the time? The aim of this session is to take a critical look at materials written in the nineteenth and early twentieth century to examine how they can be used to help archaeologists make interpretations about the past. This session will explore how literature written in the past can help archaeologists understand cultural values of the time, and how the writings of these authors can be used to theorize the past, the present, and interpretations of the past in the present. Through a critical read of these materials, archaeologists can examine the influences of nineteenth and early twentieth century thinkers, both on their contemporaries, and on archaeologists who use them to study this time period.