Love Never Dies?

Author(s): Pamela Geller

Year: 2015


In this talk, I examine the contemporary commonsensical thinking about sex, gender, and sexuality that informs study of bioarchaeological remains. To this end, I focus on double burials whose decedents appear to be embracing—their discovery, investigation, and presentation in scholarly and popular settings. Images of and stories about these ancient embracers garner significant and often sensationalized attention in myriad, global spaces. Here I deliberate about their representation in mediascapes, museum exhibits, and heritage sites. What dominant discourses and representations about sex, gender, and sexuality circulate in these spheres? In answer, I argue that proximity is cited as evidence by archaeologist and non-specialists alike of eternal, romantic, and heteronormative love. Dissemination and consumption occur with minimal consideration of the disparate cultures, geographic locations, and time periods from which these burials come. What, I query, is the consequence—intellectually, ideologically, economically, politically—of identifying these burials’ ancient occupants as lovers? Ultimately, I argue that to interrogate our common sense about sex, gender, and sexuality in the past invites us to think more deeply about the naturalization of culture, consequences of scientific study, and ways evidence from the past is represented to the public.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Love Never Dies?. Pamela Geller. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395765)