Accepted Paper:

Spheres of (inter-)action: reflexive archaeological survey in Misiones, Argentina  


Philip Riris (University College London)

Paper short abstract:

This exhibit considers how multiple human spheres of activity mesh together, overlap and influence each other’s configuration in a variety of ways across time and space. Through seeking to construct a narrative of reflexive archaeological practice in the field, a photograph taken by the author during recent fieldwork in Misiones, Argentina will guide the discussion.

Paper long abstract:

This photograph was shot while carrying out a total area survey of a site in the upper reaches of the Piray Guazú river valley during April of 2010. The site is centred on a promontory of basaltic rock which yielded cultural remains that suggest it functioned as a collection site, workshop and quarry for workable stone for up to several millennia. Using this location as a vantage point, the image shows that the land the site falls within is presently under cultivation as a plantation for pine trees. In part, this is due to its relative flatness when compared to the steep-sided river valleys. While highly destructive to the structural integrity of archaeological sites, the discovery of a large quantity of the material recorded during survey was predicated on plantation activity, which involves slashing and burning the native vegetation, followed by ploughing the soil. This process brings artefacts to the surface, yet only the most durable material culture remains intact for archaeologists to find. This intersection of spheres of activity shown in the photograph - stone workshops, plantations and academic research - is interpreted in the context of social (re-)production, landscapes and attentiveness.

Panel S39
EXHIBITION - A picture is worth a thousand words: images of archaeological practice, past and present