Archaeology's Moving Images

Angela Piccini

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Paperpeer-review


Ruth Tringham is one of a very few archaeologists working today who engage seriously with the full range of media practices through which archaeology disciplines itself. That is, she has tirelessly worked to place audio-visual media – from film to digital, networked media – at the heart of how we think about and do archaeology. In a 2009 paper on her development of the UC Berkeley Archaeological Film Database, Tringham sought to move archaeological conversations about moving image media beyond reductive critiques of archaeological accuracy to explore, instead, how it is that we watch films about the past, how we use them in our teaching, how we use them in our research, how we create meaning from films about the past and how we watch critically. By introducing archaeologists to the key questions that structure encounters with narrative fiction and documentary within and across film, television, media and cultural studies, Tringham taught us that screen grammar (the uses of, for example, cinematography, sound, lighting, editing and mise-en-scène), aesthetics and style, narrative, production contexts and histories, industry structures and audience and reception all shape how archaeology comes to be as subject matter, practice and discipline. Where Michael Shanks and Christopher Tilley importantly called upon archaeologists to understand their media manifestations as rhetorical performances rather than as representations (1992: 95), Tringham worked to give archaeologists the precise tools that would enable them to become reflexive, critical-creative practitioners. In this presentation, I consider Tringham’s engagements with the ‘liveness’ of the moving image and its contributions to richer, more expansive and generative understandings of archaeology’s travels across our screens.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2015
EventSociety for American Archaeology - 80th Annual Meeting (2015) - San Francisco, United States
Duration: 16 Apr 201519 Apr 2015


ConferenceSociety for American Archaeology - 80th Annual Meeting (2015)
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco

Bibliographical note

Invited contribution for celebration of Professor Ruth Tringham's career.


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