Closely Observed Layers: Small Stories and the Heart

Author(s): Ruth Tringham

Year: 2017


When I tell people I'm an archaeologist, their eyes light up with a wistful look and they say "I've always wanted to be an archaeologist". I could describe one reality, that it is not as glamorous as they think, work is slow and repetitive, and that leaves them disappointed. But usually I describe another reality: what I love about what I do - and they are delighted. However, I have never articulated it in a professional presentation or publication: I excavate layers of dead people’s residential debris; my trowel gradually reveals the thousands of events that have created the layers and material fragments of past lives. Meanwhile, my mind is joyfully busy inside my head, making sense of the layers, using all my senses and intuition to plan where my hands-with-trowel should go next, respectfully fearful of the responsibility of the decision. At the same time my mind buzzes with all the small stories that rise up out of the debris of the dead residents. This presentation, inspired by the writing of George Saunders, will find the heart in the specifics of the archaeological record and the slow versioning of their myriad stories from source to sharing with the world.

Cite this Record

Closely Observed Layers: Small Stories and the Heart. Ruth Tringham. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429784)


Geographic Keywords
West Asia

Spatial Coverage

min long: 25.225; min lat: 15.115 ; max long: 66.709; max lat: 45.583 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17280