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A Sense of Touch: The Full-Body Experience in the Past and Present of Catalhoyuk, Turkey

Lecture: ARF Brownbag | October 17 | 12-1 p.m. | 101 2251 College (Archaeological Research Facility)


Ruth Tringham, Anthropology, UC Berkeley

Archaeological Research Facility


In this paper I come to the more general issues of a sensuous archaeology through the sense of touch - the haptic sense. Using data from the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük, Turkey, I stress that the sense of touch involves far more than just fingers and skin, far more than the obvious haptic sensations, such as surface, form, pressure, pain, temperature, and texture. It involves the full-body sensations of balance and the sense of movement in any part of the body. I anchor my investigation of touch and movement in the past in the archaeological data using existing methodologies such as contact trace analysis and human kinetics. I argue that the concept of taskscapes enables us to think about the temporality, events, and rhythms of the body's haptic responses, which themselves are essential elements of understanding social practice. I suggest that another anchor to investigating sensory responses in the past is the process by which practices that started as new and unfamiliar experiences became familiar and ‘enactive knowledge’. I end with an exploration of the potential of digital technologies to transform the sharing of archaeological interpretations of past multisensorial experience that include the sense of touch.


twyrick@berkeley.edu