Innovative Approaches to Archaeology
The Graduate Archaeology at Oxford Annual Conference (GAO) 2020 provides an international platform for graduate students and early career researchers to promote, share, discuss their research, and expand their networks.
This year’s conference theme, Innovative Approaches to Archaeology, will engage with methodological approaches, theoretical paradigms, and new research to provide crucial insights in the field.
Our discipline is in a constant state of transformation that explores and is explored through the dataset with which we engage. As such, it is innovative and permeable, with the potential to influence other academic fields due to its unique relationship with the material world.
This year’s conference intends to provide a discussion arena which encompasses methods, frameworks, and approaches rather than focussing on specific historical or geographical clusters. With a commitment to de-localise the territories of our archaeologies, the conference is open to contributions that re-examine artefacts, challenge established views and approaches, engage with theories, emerging ontologies, and methodological frameworks.
Graduate Archaeology at Oxford 2020
The Graduate Archaeology at Oxford Annual Conference is one of the leading graduate conferences. Led by graduate students in archaeology and encompassing both archaeological and anthropological perspectives, the conference provides a forum to engage with their current investigations, promote exchange between academic audiences, and share research.
The conference is the result of years of collaboration between graduate students and early career researchers from different fields and academic backgrounds. We intend to provide a catalytic environment where exchanging ideas, discussing alternative perspectives, and forming novel connections in an international setting is paramount.
Abstracts, Deadlines, and Awards.
Prizes provided by BAR Publishing will be awarded for ‘Best Paper’ and ‘Best Poster’, while a special prize will be awarded to the 'Best Presentation' in the field of Maritime Archaeology sponsored by OCMA.
We are also working toward producing a publication of the conference proceedings with the BAR Publishing.
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Themes and Sessions
Although we welcome any proposal, we are especially interested in contributions (presentations and posters) focusing on:
Investigating Materiality and Material Interactions: Challenging Approaches and Novel Frontiers
Speaking of materiality in archaeology today is not simply a matter of identifying past human actions reflected in material forms. The emergence of ‘new materialism(s)’ in archaeology, allied with perspectives described as post-humanist and non-representationalist, has been producing multiple perceptions of what materiality is and is not. Stemming from the ‘material turn’ and ‘thing theory’, novel and challenging approaches are emerging from the disparate sub-disciplines of archaeology. Entanglements (Hodder 2012), engagements (Malafouris 2013), and assemblages (Fowler 2013) of things are all part of an emerging vocabulary where material culture stands for what it is and actively participates in a wider network of interactions (Knappett 2015). These perspectives and their role in constituting past and present worlds engage with materiality at various degrees. From a less anthropocentric perspective on how material culture actively constructs or challenges social reality up to the multi-sensorial capacities that the material world exerts on humans when using and making things.
This session seeks to explore how materiality instantiates human relationships with their environments on multiple spatial and temporal scales. It features emerging conceptions of materiality and how they might be approached in our research. In this panel, we welcome papers that engage with all conceptions of materiality, regardless of the geographical and temporal context of analysis.
The Archaeologies of Colonial Encounters
Colonialism is a significant force in the intellectual history and theory of archaeology. The word is ubiquitous in many different areas of archaeology and often used in different ways. We want to use this session to bring these diverse perspectives together.
Much archaeological research addresses issues in relation to the transformations brought about by encounters that were colonial by intent or outcome. As a persistent feature of interacting communities, it has been tied to processes of exploitative and dominant social relations (Dietler 1998), while consciousness of this dominance has been extended to current understandings of history itself (Witmore 2014). The issues generated by colonisation (and subsequent decolonisation) are varied, complex and highly-charged, and touch upon research across all disciplines, in anthropology as well as archaeology, requiring diverse perspectives (e.g., post-colonial theory and world systems theory) in order to identify and understand them. By focusing on material aspects of human existence, archaeology offers a unique perspective on the cultural dynamics that shape this worldwide phenomenon (Gosden 2004). Material culture from archaeological sites as well as museum collections and archival material provide a way of identifying the presence of social practices related to the maintenance and reproduction of social groups, power relations, and the construction of identities that occur in colonial spaces (Van Dommelen 2005).
Matters of Scaling in Archaeology: Local, Regional, and Global Perspectives, Connectivity, and Networks
In the quest to cast light on human interactions, archaeological analyses intervene on multiple scales, from the minutiae provided by the study of a single artefact to the regional and global interpretations of human activities unfolding over long periods (Knappett 2005). Different patterns of artefactual distribution suggest several kinds of human interaction (i.e., settlement hierarchy, exchange interaction, sharing of ideas, continuity in traditions) where different scales are at play both spatially and temporally. Scale has a direct impact on archaeology’s ability to make sense of the past and visualise the processes emerging within individual workshops or across continents.
The borders between micro, meso, and macro are invisible but active agents that shaped and shape perceptions of time, space, and social position (Lock and Molynaxu 2006). Researchers now seamlessly move through scales using technologies such as remote sensing or GIS. As a result, the same invisibility of scales is at the centre of this discourse. Equally important is the working definition of "scale." While anthropologists feature the relations between humans, things, and environments, approaches to network analysis in archaeology also look at the different scales at play among artefacts, people, temporalities, and space (Knappett 2013).
This session aims to understand scale, its role in identifying linkages and associations through the use of networks and technologies, and how these notions influence how we practice archaeology. We welcome papers and posters that consider the relationships between humans and material culture and relate humans, things, and their environments at multiple scales of interaction (Robb 2013).
Reconstructing Ancient Landscapes: Landmarks, Soundscapes, and Skyscapes
Since 1980 archaeology has witnessed an escalation in landscape studies. Artefactual distribution over geographical spaces, united with novel techniques of analysis, fostered the study of the interactions between humans, places, and material culture. Landscape archaeology has become a branch of its own with precise aims and techniques to gather and analyse data. Analysis of pollen, faunal remains, soil sampling, geophysics, historical archives, satellite images, long-term studies of human-landscape interaction, and phenomenological approaches are synthesised within the practice of landscape archaeology. As a result, landscape archaeology is interested in the social and experiential nature of the place and not just the environment's effects on humans (David and Thomas 2008). Soundscapes, in opposition to or intersecting with visionscapes (Gell 1995), are embedded and integral to people, places, cultural values, and times. Taskscapes attempt to examine the multiple temporalities nested in the landscape, emphasising the actions and movements within a landscape or seascape (Ingold 1993). Analogous is the interaction between humans and the sky. Skyscapes look at the relation between sky and human society and the cultural values emerged from such a relation in time (Silva 2015).
With this session, we intend to synthesise the aforementioned approaches. Papers and posters in this session might address methods to gather and analyse environmental and settlement data, studies that challenge or complement past research, or long-term changes and their influence on human actions. We welcome presentations featuring of the implications of the environment effects upon social order and gender, the phenomenological or sensory approaches to places, among others.
New Directions in the Use of Science-Based Techniques on Archaeological Materials: Multidisciplinary Approaches for Data Collection and Interpretation
Archaeology draws upon many different disciplinary methods, approaches and questions to address its central issue: the understanding of human past through the study of material remains; therefore, it is a truly multidisciplinary research activity (Sinclair 2016).
Archaeological science plays a central role in the formulation of new theories and in challenging long-standing assumptions in archaeology. Nevertheless, despite the application of science-based techniques to the study of past material culture, often providing crucial insights to further our understanding of material and social dynamics, their use has often resulted in discussions on methodology, documentation, and interpretation of the archaeological data (Andrews and Doonan 2003; Jones 2002; Pollard and Bray 2007; Martinón Torres and Killik 2015) .
The main objective of this session is to entice interdisciplinarity critical thinking and new insights on archaeological materials by bringing together researchers combining different techniques and inter- and multidisciplinary approaches. These approaches not only allow the incorporation of a wide variety of sources of information and/or methodologies but also foster the revision of previous interpretations and datasets. We welcome papers presenting single case studies or theoretical argumentation revisiting existing data and expanding traditional research questions on the study of the archaeological materials, with particular interest in key issues of materiality, social construction of technologies, and models of technological change.
Innovative Approaches in Maritime and Underwater Archaeology: Past and Present
Since the pioneering work of Honor Frost, Frédéric Dumas, and Keith Muckelroy, maritime archaeology has grown to become a recognised sub-discipline within the wider field with its own distinct contribution to the study of maritime and fluvial communities. From an early fascination with the study of wrecked ships, the sub-discipline has developed intellectually to encompass a broad range of entangled relationships between people and the planet’s oceans, seas, rivers and lakes through the exploration of material remains. Subsequent innovation has played a major role, enabling underwater excavation and the discovery of cultural artefacts in increasingly deeper and more remote areas. These innovations have broadened the discipline, opening up new areas of interpretation from objects to landscapes and connected networks. This ‘view from the sea’ is featured at this GAO conference with a day of papers dedicated to new research ideas and innovations in the discipline and the impact that they can have on our understanding of global cultural heritage.
The session explores the development of maritime archaeology and evaluates emerging innovations occurring in this sub-discipline. Speakers may present their approaches to underwater excavations and surveys, cultural interactions, and economic exchange.
Transport and Accommodation
Oxford is well connected to other cities via plane and train. It is a hub of British culture with plenty of opportunities and places to visit.
The best ways to get to Oxford
Air Travel. The two closest airports are London Heathrow and Gatwick. The Airline coach service runs 24 hours a day and is the most direct service. It is also possible to get to Oxford by train from Heathrow via London, and from Gatwick via Reading. From London Stansted airport there is a National Express 757 coach service. The Stansted Express train service runs to Liverpool Street, London. From the City take the tube to either Paddington or Marylebone for direct trains to Oxford.
Trains. Oxford is very well connected with the rest of the UK. Direct services run from London Paddington and London Marylebone. Various services run from the north via Birmingham New Street; the south via Reading; and the west via Didcot or Reading.
Oxford Railway Station is central, only a 5-10 minute walk from the city centre and 15 minutes from the venue. Please use our interactive map to find your way from the station to your accommodation or the Ioannou Centre for Classical & Byzantine Studies.
Coaches. The National Express services link most of the UK towns and airports to Oxford. The central coach station is Gloucester Green. It is conveniently located in the city centre, 5 minutes from the venue and close to most colleges and accommodations. There are also 24-hour direct services between Oxford and London operated by the Oxford Tube.
Parking. The city centre is mostly closed and the few spaces are often occupied and very expensive. But there are five Park and Ride sites which serve Oxford city centre: Oxford Parkway and Pear Tree (north), Redbridge (south), Thornhill (east), and Seacourt (west).
A few tips for a better experience
Colleges. Several colleges offer out of term-time accommodation to guests. It is possible to find spare rooms on search engines (University Rooms or Conference Oxford) providing a number of options; you do not need to be a student or alumni of Oxford to stay here. Other colleges have personal booking systems (i.e. Keble, University, and Magdalen).
B&Bs. There are different search engines that provide a wide range of of B&B options in Oxford, both in the city centre, Summertown, Cowley Road, and Littlemore that cater to a wide range of budgets.
Hostels. There are at least three hostels in Oxford. The YHA Oxford is an established youth hostel immediately next to the train station. Oxford Backpackers Hostel is another option close to the city centre and Gloucester Green coach station. Similarly, there is Central Backpackers. They are literally one behind the other in the same building.
AirBnB. Increasingly popular in the UK, it provides an opportunity to stay in a house, flat or local residence with one or more persons. The availability of short-accommodation is usually pretty limited in Oxford. Most accommodations are outside the city centre, which would require a bus or taxi to reach the venue.
Hotels. Most hotels are listed on the various search engines (Booking, Hotels.com, and so on). Hotels in Oxford can be expensive. There are, however, always special offers and it's worth checking before looking elsewhere.