Welcome to our writing group!
We are a group of 9 archaeologists, historians, art historians, and classicists at Cornell University pursuing research projects on sound in antiquity.
Our world is multisensory, structured by perceiving our surroundings through vision, touch, smell, taste, and hearing. Yet, when dealing with interpreting the past, we often give precedence to vision and touch in analyzing the material and historical records. This is particularly true of scholarship on the ancient Mediterranean, where discourse on sound is lacking. Sounds in particular are difficult to perceive in the past because they are by nature ephemeral and transitory; sound and noise are created and interpreted in the specific contexts of time and place. As archaeologists, historians, and art historians, we are concerned with developing methodologies to explore the relationship between sounds and place, movement, religion, politics, and identity in antiquity.
In order to achieve a holistic perception of the social and cultural ramifications of sound, it is also vital that scholars communicate across fields. Research that analyzes material culture as its primary evidence in looking at the past is split between several departments and programs, resulting in a silence between researchers who address similar topics. Consequently, this writing group will incorporate faculty and graduate students from Archaeology, Art History, Classical Archaeology, History, and Near Eastern Studies in order to overcome departmental divisions and develop methodologies for working on the pre-modern world. Each participant will address a unique view of the production, reception, and absence of sound in antiquity, but we will collectively discuss sound in relation to material culture and the historical record.