Event: Excavating the Future: From Recovery to Regeneration

Date & Time

February 29, 2024 - 6:00pm
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Contact Information

Michelle Jacobson


James West Alumni Center

Event Type

Cotsen Public Lecture

Event Details

Grass growing in plastic bagWhen I joined our students for their training excavation in September 2021 on the Swedish Island of Öland, it occurred to me that by focusing on the act of recovering objects and information, archaeology may be missing the most central aspect of the site. For the site was surrounded by lush vegetation and in the middle of an intense process of regeneration, involving everything from small creatures in the soil to huge trees reaching into the sky.

In this talk, I will trace the emergence of this insight and its implications for rethinking archaeology´s temporality and, in particular, the 1964 Venice Charter on Conservation and Restoration which has been the most influential 20th century document on policy guiding heritage conservation and restoration. I will also discuss implications for the response of archaeology to climate change, going beyond understanding long-term environmental change and safeguarding threatened sites toward developing strategies for increasing cultural resilience and sustainability. Archaeologists have long claimed to be working on the past for the benefit of future generations—now it is time to explicitly address the future and draw on the full potential of archaeology to make human societies more sustainable (while perhaps improving the life of non-human lifeforms too).

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6pm Lecture
7pm Reception 

Parking Information

Cornelius HoltorfCornelius Holtorf is Professor of Archaeology as well as Chairholder of the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures at Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden. He studied in Germany and the UK, received a Doctorate from the University of Wales in 1998 (supervised by Michael Shanks), and has been living in Sweden for more than two decades, since 2008 in Kalmar. Since 2015, he has been directing the Graduate School in Contract Archaeology (GRASCA) comprising 9 PhD projects. He is currently a Getty Scholar working on “Heritage in Transformation”.  For more information about Holtorf see http://lnu.se/en/unescochair and http://corneliusholtorf.com.