Archaeological traces. Past migrations, interaction and spatial patterns in the Baltic Sea area.

Field: Arkeologi
Project leader: Kerstin Cassel
Starting year: 2009
Project type: Project

The project departs in the contradiction between the sedentary and place bound character of archaeological thought and data, and the often mobile and fluid reality of the past. Through a set of archaeologically well-known prehistoric places we try to elucidate spatial and cultural relations in the Baltic Sea area. By presenting a number of junctions and crossroads, the project aims to illuminate the problematic ideas of sedentism in order to complement and nuance the description of past contacts and connections between people and communities.

The starting point is the diversity of archaeologies and cultural historical interpretations marked by the modern history of the Baltic Sea area. An inherent goal is to explore a “nomadic” scientific thought, thus transgressing supposed theoretical, empirical and methodological borders. Within the project we explore both Iron Age and Stone Age situations from a landscape archaeological perspective influenced by postcolonial thought, actor-network theory, architectural research and sociological perspectives on migration.

As an archaeological project we will focus on the materiality of human mobility, which contains both artefactual and landscape studies. Through the re-examination of well-known archaeological sources the project aims to investigate archaeology of mobile momentum. Consequently, the project does not only concern traditionally defined mobile cultures, but the variety of situations that involves people on the move.

The following sets of questions unites the studies in the project:

– How does modern borders, history of science and sociology of science affect the field of archaeology in the Baltic? Furthermore, which interpretative advantages and disadvantages can be traced in a congregation between the different archeological traditions?

– What characterizes places where people interact cross-culturally? What makes a stranger? How can social and material strategies of cross-cultural interaction appear, and how can they be traced?

– Can archaeology detach its place bound character without losing its spatial focus? How can archaeology break away from a modern cartographic outlook, where concepts of spatial demarcation, cultural uniformity and sedentary life dominate the view?