Course Title: CCHU9080: Dead People’s Things: Excavating the Past with Archaeology
Things are all around us. Why is “stuff” so vital in human life and society? Our existence is mediated by the tangible world around us, through the interface of our bodies and senses. The things we interact with may hold emotional significance, or may disappear into the background, but they always impact everything we do, from the smallest pin holding up our clothes to the landscapes through which we move. Because some things created or modified by past humans have survived until today, they can open a window on these people, helping us explore how we became who we are and who we will become. The archaeologist’s goal is to excavate, examine, and analyze the stuff of the past to understand our own and others’ lived experiences. This class will work together to explore the past and its relationship to the present – while simultaneously considering the things in our own daily lives.
Purpose of this Session
The title of this lecture is “Ethical Considerations for Past Objects” and we will discuss how we value, preserve, deploy, and interact with ancient objects in today’s world.
Biography of the Teacher
Dr. Peter J. Cobb is a field archaeologist, ceramics specialist, and a digital humanist. He is an assistant professor in the Faculties of Education and Arts, where his coursework spans archaeology, ancient history, information sciences, and digital humanities. Each summer, he leads archaeological fieldwork in the South Caucasus in collaboration with the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of Armenia, and he also participates in projects in Laos. Dr. Cobb’s research focuses on understanding the lived experiences and mobilities of people in the past. Through investigations of ancient ceramics and landscapes, his work strives to enhance our understanding of the movement and sharing of objects and ideas in the past. He also experiments with advanced digital methods for archaeological field recording and analysis, including with 3D spatial and shape data. Dr. Cobb is the Digital Reviews Editor for the Society of American Archaeology’s journal Advances in Archaeological Practices. He also serves on the iSchools Digital Humanities Curriculum Committee. Prior to HKU, he taught at the University of Pennsylvania, where he completed his PhD in the Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World.