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An archaeological light age: On modernity, urbanism and the materiality of light-based technologies.

Author(s): Hilary Orange

Year: 2016

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Artificial light is synonymous with modernity and the industrial age. Light turns night into day, guides our way, and transforms place and material. Despite its centrality within the urban experience, light studies are fragmented across a diverse set of fields including, among others, architecture, history, planning and art. Where historical and contemporary archaeology are concerned, light and light-based technologies have received little attention.

In 2015, the International Year of Light (IYL2015) predicted that the "21st century will depend as much on photonics as the 20th century depended on electronics." Meanwhile, Dark Sky advocates are calling for the skies to become a form of night-time heritage site.

In this paper, I will usher in a contemporary archaeology of light as material and transformer of material. I will illustrate the talk with slides from recent field and digital work in Japan, London, Germany and Canvey Island.


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An archaeological light age: On modernity, urbanism and the materiality of light-based technologies.. Hilary Orange. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434498)


cities light Technology

Geographic Keywords
United Kingdom Western Europe

Temporal Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -8.158; min lat: 49.955 ; max long: 1.749; max lat: 60.722 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 413

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America