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Towards an Archaeology of Energy: The Materiality of Heat, Light, and Power in 17th and 18th century Durham, England

Author(s): Quentin Lewis ; Adrian Green ; Thomas Yarrow

Year: 2014

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Summary

This paper proposes an archaeology of energy, probing the historical materialities of heat, light, and power. Our modern high carbon world is the result of a series of historical and material processes in which objects, peoples, spaces, and relationships coalesced into regimes of energy. The traces of these regimes are visible in material things and can be investigated archaeologically. We offer up a case study from an epicenter of the transition to a high carbon world: 17th and 18th century Durham, in England. During this time, gentry families like the Bakers from Durham shifted from agricultural production to raw material extraction, particularly coal mining, as their primary means of livelihood. This transition, which powered the industrial revolution, required and constituted new materialities, spaces, and social relations. We offer data from Judith Baker’’s account books, as well as comparative data, to situate this family within a regime of energy, and to exemplify our approach.


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Towards an Archaeology of Energy: The Materiality of Heat, Light, and Power in 17th and 18th century Durham, England. Quentin Lewis, Adrian Green, Thomas Yarrow. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437370)


Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-81,06

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