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Stoking the Flames: Towards an Archaeology of Fire

Event date: 
Monday, 15 December, 2014 to Wednesday, 17 December, 2014
Organised by: 
Ellen McInnes, Lauren Doughton, and Rhiannon Pettit (University of Manchester)
Kind of Event: 
for Professionals

Please submit abstracts of 200-250 words for a 20 min paper for this confirmed session at TAG 2014

Fire can be perceived by archaeologists as both phenomenon and artefact, subject to experimental recreation, scientific analysis and philosophical discussion (Gheorghiu 2002). This session seeks to explore fire as a material force by thinking about the range of practices in which people, materials and fire interacted. Fire is relational and understood in specific contexts and worldviews. To explore these understandings, Sørensen and Bille (2008) suggest that archaeologists should think about what fire does, rather than what it is: they argue that a study of the transformations fire brings about, rather than discussions of its nature, can tell us more of how fire was understood. Within their approach, fire can be studied from the perspective of space, the human body, material culture, the creation of place and the environment. However, there is also a place for a consideration of fire itself in these interactions in terms of different types of fire, how they manifest and how they behave. Papers are invited that consider how the material experiences of interactions between people, smoke, flames, embers and the substances produced can be explored through archaeology. We encourage papers that use these interpretive narratives to explore the ways in which fire was understood by people and communities.

Gheorghiu, D. (2002). Towards Pyro-archaeology. In D. Gheorghiu (ed.)Fire in Archaeology. British Archaeological Reports International Series 1089, pp. 1 –5. Oxford: Archaeopress.
Sørensen, T. F. and Bille, M. (2008). Flames of transformation: the role of fire in cremation practices, World Archaeology, Vol. 40(2), pp. 253-267