Call for Papers – Volume 5

Topic of the Year: Crossroads or turning points? Rethinking “landscape archaeologies” and the intersection with the contemporary landscapes

The Topic of the Year for the AJPA Volume 5 (2021) seeks contributions exploring the benefits of the intersection between “landscape archaeologies” and landscape studies rooted in the contemporary world.

If you wish to submit a paper exploring the relationship between archaeology and contemporary society which does not match the Topic of the Year, our Satura Lanx section welcomes any original and innovative contribution that can answer questions from an international to a local scale. Submissions to this section are always open.

All articles will be published online as soon as they are ready and then included in the corresponding volume, at the end of each year. For further information, check the paper formats and the journal structure – this year we introduced several novelties!

Crossroads or turning points? Rethinking “landscape archaeologies” and the intersection with the contemporary landscapes

Multiple approaches to the study of landscape exist in archaeology. From economic to ritual perspectives, “landscape archaeologies” have been among the most fluid research areas. Though each viewpoint presents peculiar research traditions and practices, landscape archaeology in its broadest sense provides us with a common ground to overcome ”our own disciplinary pasts” (David & Thomas 2016, p. 38).

Public archaeology considers landscape as the scenario in which the interaction between archaeology and society happens, normally under the form of community archaeology programs and heritage management strategies (Reynolds 2014). Emotional entanglements often come up of these encounters, although sometimes overlooked by practitioners and connected to the development of a sense of place and belonging that is part of the way in which people engage with the environment that surrounds them (Waterton 2005).

Such connections apply both to the study of the past and the present, pushing toward new strands of research that link public archaeology to ancient and contemporary landscapes. For example, recent studies investigated how activities contextualized in the historic landscape can contribute to wellbeing (Reilly et al. 2018, The Heritage Alliance 2020), positively impacting the life quality of contemporary communities and even of vulnerable groups – through projects like Human Henge, Waterloo Uncovered, Operation Nightingale, etc. (Darvill et al. 2019). Other projects like CITiZAN have “established an infrastructure and network of volunteers with the skills, commitment and support to record, monitor and promote fragile and threatened archaeological intertidal sites” (CITiZAN 2021), demonstrating how archaeology can make an impact on issues of climate change.
Other approaches derive from other disciplines. For example, therapeutic landscapes are peculiarly relevant in the contemporary world: originally conceptualized in geography, they are metaphoric entities merging environment, wellbeing and society. The research on therapeutic landscapes focuses on the analysis of present (hospitals and clinics) and ancient (i.e. Epidauros) healing places following a conceptual framework based on mixed methodologies.

Undoubtedly, the pandemic is redefining the ways in which public archaeology can benefit society, posing new physical and digital challenges for all the parties involved. No matter under which flag(s) the complexity of landscapes is approached, the design of transdisciplinary programs and activities in archaeology may disclose roads for the elaboration of new theoretical and methodological frameworks – paths that may be still untraveled but are worth considering.