Universiteit Leiden

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Connected Communities: Undocumented Migration and Material Practices in the West Mediterranean.

  • Prof.dr. Peter van Dommelen (Brown University)
Wednesday 9 November 2016
Van Steenis
Einsteinweg 2
2333 CC Leiden

Migration has long been a major topic in archaeology and as long as culture history has framed archaeological understandings of material culture and past societies, migrations have been seen as the stuff that (pre)history was made of. With the advent of the New, Processual and Post-Processual archaeologies, archaeological explanations and theoretical interests have shied away from migration, but a lack of interest among contemporary archaeologists does not mean that people in the past did not migrate. Migration was in all likelihood as common, recurrent and widespread a phenomenon in the ancient and distant past as it is today - it has indeed been argued that migration is arguably a fundamental part of being human.

As new scientific techniques like DNA, isotope analyses and other biometric approaches have become available, migration has come back on the archaeological agenda, and there is widespread interest in tracing and tracking migration. Scientific evidence that certain individuals actually moved from A to B does not necessarily improve our archaeological understanding of migration as a process, however, and it is precisely this question that I intend to tackle in this lecture.

Using prehistoric, Classical and recent archaeological and ethnographic evidence from around the West Mediterranean, I intend to take a fresh look at past migration. In doing so, it is not so much my aim to find ‘hard evidence’ but rather to examine the consequences of migration for both migrant and host societies.

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