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Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology



Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423

Why did the Philadelphia police bomb a house in West Philadelphia in 1985 and let the whole neighborhood burn for hours? Why did a Hindu nationalist mob destroy a 16th century mosque in Ayodhya during a riot in 1992? Why is "Ground Zero" such a powerful and evocative place? Why did ancient Babylonian kings dig around to locate the foundations of ancient temples? Why do ruins always draw our interest and curiosity? What stories are told on the walls of ancient, medieval and modern structures?

Before the invention of the printing press, buildings and monuments have been considered as the "book of humanity" on which the stories of humanity had been inscribed. Buildings have been mediators of the past, with their powerful presence and often turbulent histories. Stories cling to their stones, which become visible residues of the human lives that shape them. Memories, imaginations and experiences, collectively shared or individual, give meaning to architectural spaces. This course explores the intersections of memory and architecture through various archaeological case studies from the ancient world.

The discipline of archaeology is now increasingly interested in the way monuments and ordinary buildings relate to individual and social memories, provoke stories and imaginations that shape collective identities. Through the research of the meaningful world of spaces and architectural forms, archaeologists and architectural historians were able to speak more intimately about human engagements with the built environment. In this course we will explore archaeological studies that explicitly foreground memory practices of ancient societies and how those relate to the making of spaces. We will explore issues of architectural representation (and architecture as representation), narrativity and story-telling in architecture, spatial practices and practiced spaces, the use, re-use and abuse of spaces, and their meanings.

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