The Oxford Handbook of Light in Archaeology

ISBN : 9780198788218

Costas Papadopoulos; Holley Moyes
816 Pages
171 x 246 mm
Pub date
Dec 2021
Oxford Handbooks
Send mail

Light has a fundamental role to play in our perception of the world. Natural or artificial lightscapes orchestrate uses and experiences of space and, in turn, influence how people construct and negotiate their identities, form social relationships, and attribute meaning to (im)material practices. Archaeological practice seeks to analyse the material culture of past societies by examining the interaction between people, things, and spaces. As light is a crucial factor that mediates these relationships, understanding its principles and addressing illumination's impact on sensory experience and perception should be a fundamental pursuit in archaeology. However, in archaeological reasoning, studies of lightscapes have remained largely neglected and understudied. This volume provides a comprehensive and accessible consideration of light in archaeology and beyond by including dedicated and fully illustrated chapters covering diverse aspects of illumination in different spatial and temporal contexts, from prehistory to the present. Written by leading international scholars, it interrogates the qualities and affordances of light in different contexts and (im)material environments, explores its manipulation, and problematises its elusive properties. The result is a synthesis of invaluable insights into sensory experience and perception, demonstrating illumination's vital impact on social, cultural, and artistic contexts.


1 Costas Papadopoulos and Holley Moyes: Illuminating Sensory Archaeologies
Section I. Darkness
2 Paul Pettit, Stefanie Leluschko, and Takashi Sakamoto: Light, Human Evolution, and the Palaeolithic
3 Efrosyni Boutsikas: The Role of Darkness in Ancient Greek Religion and Religious Practice
4 Athanasia Zografou: Constructing the Invisible: Light and Darkness in the Topography of Hades
5 Holley Moyes, Lillian Rigoli, Stephanie Huette, Daniel R. Montello, Teenie Matlock, and Michael J. Spivey: Darkness and the Imagination: The Role of Environment in the Development of Spiritual Beliefs
6 Gail Higginbottom and Vincent Mom: Illuminating Time: The Visibility of Temporality in Prehistory
Section II. Light in Myth, Ritual, and Cosmology
7 Robert Hensey: Rediscovering the Winter Solstice Alignment at Newgrange, Ireland
8 A. Cesar Gonzalez-Garcia: Light and Shadow Effects in Megalithic Monuments in the Iberian Peninsula
9 Lucy Goodison: Sunlight, Divination, and the Dead in Aegean Ritual Tradition
10 Timothy R. Pauketat: Illuminating Triangulations: Moonlight and the Mississippian World
11 Ruth M. Van Dyke: The Chacoan World: Light and Shadow, Stone and Sky
12 Kevin Conti and William Walker: Animate Shadows of Bears and Giants
Section III. Light in Sacred Architecture
13 Giulio Magli: The Beautiful Face of Ra: The Role of Sunlight in the Architecture of Ancient Egypt
14 Iakovos Potamianos: The Handling of Light: Its Effect on Form and Space in the Greek Temple and the Byzantine Church
15 Mikkel Bille and Tim Flohr Sorensen: In Visible Presence: The Role of Light in Shaping Religious Atmospheres
16 Maria Sardi and Ioannis Motsianos: Lighting in Muslim and Christian Religious Buildings: A Comparative Study
Section IV. The Meaning of Light
17 Emilia Pasztor: Prehistoric Light in the Air: Celestial Symbols of the Bronze Age
18 Bissera V. Pentcheva: Phenomenology of Light: The Glitter of Salvation in Bessarion's Cross
19 Eleni Bintsi: The Light of the Flame: Use and Symbolism of Light and Lighting Devices in Traditional Greek Culture
20 Eric C. Lapp: Encountering Photoamulets and the Use of Apotropaic Light in Late Antiquity
Section V. Light in Private, Domestic, and Working Environments
21 Mary Shepperson: Visibility, Privacy, and Missing Windows: The Lighting of Domestic Space in Ancient Mesopotamia
22 Jean-Philippe Carrie: Lighting the 'Good Life': The Role of Light in the Aristocratic Housing System during Late Antiquity
23 Peter Dawson and Richard Levy: Thirty Days of Night: The Role of Light and Shadow in Inuit Architecture North of the Arctic Circle
24 David Griffiths: Household Consumption of Artificial Light at Pompeii
25 Ian West: Industrialising Light: The Development and Deployment of Artificial Lighting in Early Factories
Section VI. Simulations and Reconstructions of Light
26 Aaron Watson and Ronnie Scott: Materialising Light, Making Worlds: Optical Image Projection within the Megalithic Passage Tombs of Britain And Ireland
27 Simon Stoddart, Caroline Malone, Michael Anderson, and Robert Barratt: Light and Dark in Prehistoric Malta
28 Matt Gatton: The Eleusinian Projector: The Hierophant's Optical Method of Conjuring the Goddess
29 Dorina Moullou and Fragiskos V. Topalis: Reconstructing Artificial Light in Ancient Greece
30 Dragoş
Gheorghiu: Lighting in Reconstructed Contexts: Experimental Archaeology with Pyrotechnologies
31 Eva Bosch: Catalhoyuk: A Study of Light and Darkness - A Photo-Essay
Section VII. Light in Object Curation and Knowledge Production
32 Eleni Kotoula: Light and its Interaction with Antiquities and Works of Art: A Conservator's Perspective
33 Malcolm Innes: Lighting and Museum Exhibits
34 Nessa Leibhammer: Modalities of Meaning: Light and Shadow in Archaeological Images
Tim Ingold: Afterword: On Light

About the author: 

Costas Papadopoulos is an Assistant Professor in Digital Humanities & Culture Studies at Maastricht University. His work has its roots in ethnography, archaeology, digital humanities, and museum and cultural studies, exploring modelling and representation at the intersections of the physical and the digital. It advances understandings of the experience and perception of heritage; engages with debates on the role of interactive research in digital humanities; explores ways to build epistemological frameworks for multimodal research; and integrates Arts into STE(A)M learning via socially-engaged research by facilitating digital literacy and creative thinking. Most of his research has focused on digital applications in archaeology and heritage with a particular emphasis on 3D visualisation. He is PI of PURE3D which develops an Infrastructure for the Publication and Preservation of 3D Scholarship.; Holley Moyes is a Professor of Anthropology and Heritage Studies and an Affiliate Faculty in the Cognitive and Information Sciences department at the University of California, Merced. Her main area of expertise is the archaeology of religion and she is particularly interested in ritual spaces. Although most of her field work is conducted in ancient Maya ritual cave sites in Belize, Central America, her broader interests encompass cross-cultural ritual cave use. She has published over 40 journal articles and book chapters on the subject of caves and her book Sacred Darkness: A Global Perspective on the Ritual Use of Caves won a 2013 Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title.

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.