Katharina Rebay-Salisbury (University of Leicester) and I are organising a
session on "Zeitgeist" in archaeology at the Annual Meeting of the EAA in
Riva di Garda, Italy, 15-20 September 2009, http://www.eaaitaly2009.com/.
We warmly invite contributions. The session abstract is pasted below.
Deadline for abstract submission is 31 May 09.
Session organized by Katharina Rebay-Salisbury and Susanne Hakenbeck
Zeitgeist, 'the spirit of the age', refers to trends and worldviews as well
as to the dominant intellectual, cultural, ethical and political climate of
an era. In archaeology, we encounter large scale, broadly contemporaneous
phenomena that are shared beyond cultural or regional boundaries. Zeitgeist
phenomena cut across trajectories of cultural change or evolutionary
developments and can be implemented in a variety of cultural settings.
Differently from, for instance, the spread of agriculture or metallurgy,
Zeitgeist phenomena do not have an obvious point of origin and do not
appear to be transmitted in a linear way. Yet they are shared across long
distances. They cannot be interpreted with the conventional archaeological
language of chronological or evolutionary change, the spread of peoples or
culture groups, or the diffusion of ideas. Instead, they appear to be
expressions of deeply-running ideological shifts - the Zeitgeist of an era.
Typically, we observe such phenomena archaeologically in two domains, as
particular aspects of human practice and in the widespread occurrence of
particular aesthetic styles. Examples from the sphere of practice include
European megalithic architecture in the fourth millennium BC and the
practice of building barrows in the Middle Bronze Age. Examples from the
realm of 'fashion' or aesthetics are the revival of human representations
around 800 to 600 BC and the distribution of early medieval animal style on
metalwork. We propose that the concept of Zeitgeist in archaeology may
provide a new way of understanding these complex phenomena, distinct from
other theoretical models of shared cultural traits. We invite papers that
not only describe Zeitgeist phenomena in various periods but also make an
attempt at explaining underlying ideas, causes and possible forms of
Dr Susanne Hakenbeck, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research,
University of Cambridge, Downing Street, CB2 3ER, UK
Tel.: (++44) (0)1223 339 326
About this concept (Zeitgeist) see for instance: