Posts From April, 2013

Light years away by Edurne Rubio – a review

I have been fortunate to attend a representation of “Light years away” by Ms. Edurne Rubio in Groningen, Netherlands. The artist is the daughter of one of the explorers of the cave system of Ojo Guareña, near Burgos, Spain and has a long and intimate connection with the caves. The performance mixes monologue, surround sound, video and theatrical performance. In its basic structure, it is the representation of a guided tour of the caves, one that is imaginary and not constricted by time or space. For those not knowing the caves, it is an extraordinary long (about 110 km known) cave system, with several subterranean lakes, at least 6 levels, and multiple openings. The upper cave system was frequented by humans from the Upper Paleolithic to the Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age, in different moments, before being rediscovered only in the past century. There are significant traces of human presence, including complex panels of rock art, residues of torches, burials, and even ancient... Read the rest of this entry »

On the usefulness of Archaeology

One of the most recurring questions about archaeology is what is about. I tried to address the question of what is archaeology in my student days, and perhaps I shall update my position, with particular regard to an emphasis on the scientific approach to the discipline. However, archaeology still is the study of the human past, and ultimately of who we are. An extension of that particular perspective would easily enable to address where we are heading. The roots of archaeology are within social sciences, and given its square focus on humanity, there is no escape from that classification. I have commented a few times on this blog about the recent challenge to all social sciences, especially from politicians, who see in social sciences a useless enterprise that would be better cut in face of an increasingly tougher economic situation (most recently as I write this, the NSF funding debate in the American Congress). In a way, humans studying what humans are, as archaeologists and... Read the rest of this entry »

Crazy about Technology

Once upon a time, people saw new technology with diffidence. Today, the mobile phone and to some extent the Apple iPad (specifically that brand and group of models) have become status symbols and most people believe it is one of the most important and used accessories in their life. Status symbols, material or immaterial, have existed in all human societies at least since the Neolithic. Figurines of Venuses suggest that fertile women we appreciated even before, so that having many healthy children could be considered as a sign of status. In fact, status symbols are anything that can be difficult to attain (because expensive in economic value in modern times, or because valuable according to different scales of value in earlier times, such as healthy kids in the Palaeolithic, when they were scarce). The link between mobile devices and status symbols is hardly new. Yet, I suggest some reflections here, that are hopefully original or at least less common. My main observation is that the... Read the rest of this entry »