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Experiential Archaeology – Time Travel? | Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews

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Experiential Archaeology – Time Travel?

This page looks at the boundaries of what archaeologists can say about life in the past. Thankfully, archaeology is an ever-expanding discipline, with an ever-increasing set of theories and methods used to say something about the human past. However, we can never get at the past in its totality. The past may be a foreign country but not even Ryan Air offers return flights to an airport twenty miles from the capital of Then. This being so, archaeologists have to make do with the scientific analysis of surviving material remains. We use the various bits of information (housing distribution from site layout, foodstuffs from organic remains, health and fitness from skeletal remains, etc.) to say something about life in the past. Can we really experience this past by somehow travelling back in time? The answer is a resounding: No. Earlier this month (Nov 2007) an extraordinary gathering of archaeologists, artists, storytellers, healers and various others took place in Malta. It was called Metageum. The small island of Malta, tucked away in the Mediterranean off the south coast of Sicily, is home to an amazing range of neolithic temples. It is a worthy setting for any archaeological conference, and these sites rightly evoke much inquiry and a sense of wonder. Something quite special was going on in late prehistory in Malta to create these uniquely wonderful sites. These have attracted a great deal of archaeological research but also large numbers of Pagans and ragbag spiritualists seeking to extract meaning from these sites of ancient significance.

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