On Writing The Past Backwards

Author(s): Matthew Johnson

Year: 2020


This is an abstract from the session entitled "Medieval to Modern Transitions and Historical Archaeology" , at the 2020 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

Thinking about medieval and modern means involves working backwards – from New World settlement to European and African antecedents and origins. Such a project raises a series of issues and challenges. First, while there is extensive ldiscussion of how time is socially embedded, there is little on the reversal of time. Second, although stratigraphy is one of the foundational concepts of the discipline, there is little writing on stratigraphy as a theoretical concept, as opposed to a method. Such a gap in the literature is strange, given that working backwards, peeling off the layers, is so central to what we do (the excavation process, analytical landscape survey). This paper offers some preliminary thoughts on writing the archaeology of the 2nd millennium CE backwards, from colonialism in the New World, to its context in Early Modern Europe, to the medieval infrastructure, to the Roman Empire and pre-Roman Iron Age (if I have time…)

Cite this Record

On Writing The Past Backwards. Matthew Johnson. 2020 ( tDAR id: 457085)


Medieval Stratigraphy time

Geographic Keywords
United States of America

Temporal Keywords
medieval to early modern

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 432