Dead People’s Things: Excavating the Past with Archaeology

Lecturer: Peter J. COBB

6 credits

Things are all around us. Why is “stuff” so vital in human life and society? Our existence is mediated by the tangible world around us, through the interface of our bodies and senses. The things we interact with may hold emotional significance, or may disappear into the background, but they always impact everything we do, from the smallest pin holding up our clothes to the landscapes through which we move. Because some things created or modified by past humans have survived until today, they can open a window on these people, helping us explore how we became who we are and who we will become. The archaeologist’s goal is to excavate, examine, and analyze the stuff of the past to understand our own and others’ lived experiences. This class will work together to explore the past and its relationship to the present – while simultaneously considering the things in our own daily lives. Using a broad interdisciplinary toolset, accessible to students from all majors, we will examine the ethical implications of how we treat our old things today and reflect together on reconstructing the past for the present.  Let’s get thinking about things!

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