Key PagesChristopher Witmore |
How archaeologists document landscape? How do we understand long term change at a regional scale? How do landscapes play roles in fluctuating sociotechnical complexities in the Old World? Here my research challenges a modernist notion that the past is demarcated, outmoded, outdated. Instead, I hold the past to push back. I regard the past in its multifarious forms to have action in human lives whether under the Greek tyrant Periander or the Roman emperor Hadrian.
From Isthmus to Gulf: A Chorography of the Eastern Morea, Greece (co-authored with Michael Shanks) addresses such issues by following three itineraries or journeys through the Eastern Peloponnesus, Greece and by tracking multitemporal relations between various material pasts. So for example, the layout of a Bronze Age road system orients movement between villages under Venetian and Turkish overlords in the Argolid. The Roman author Pausanias impacts the experience of the antiquarian traveler Sir William Gell as he traces a path from the Ancient polis of Troezen to Hermion in the 19th-century. Even forgotten pasts, which were once distant in a linear temporality, can become quite proximate to contemporary experience through the archaeological efforts of Christos Tsountas or Alan Wace at Mycenae. Each year, thousands of visitors interact with the Bronze Age citadel with little awareness of the Hellenistic town which once covered it. Such complex, multi-temporal relations suggest that time doesn’t simply pass in any unidirectional flow; rather time percolates. Here, my research works toward a synthesis based upon such non-linear relations—an archaeological rather than historical synthesis.