The Routledge Handbook of Sensory Archaeology: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Routledge Handbook of Sensory Archaeology

1st Edition

Edited by Robin Skeates, Jo Day


648 pages | 27 Color Illus. | 117 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138676299
pub: 2019-12-01
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Edited by two pioneers in the field of sensory archaeology, this handbook comprises a key point of reference for the ever-expanding field of sensory archaeology: one that surpasses previous books in this field, both in scope and critical intent.

This handbook provides an extensive set of specially-commissioned chapters, each of which summarizes and critically reflects on progress made in this dynamic field during the early years of the twenty-first century. The authors identify and discuss the key current concepts and debates of sensory archaeology, providing overviews and commentaries on its methods and its place in interdisciplinary sensual culture studies. Through a set of thematic studies, they explore diverse sensorial practices, contexts and materials, and offer a selection of archaeological case-studies from different parts of the world. In the light of this, the research methods now being brought into the service of sensory archaeology are re-examined.

Of interest to scholars, students and others with an interest in archaeology around the world, this book will be invaluable to archaeologists, and is also of relevance to scholars working in disciplines contributing to sensory studies: aesthetics, anthropology, architecture, art history, communication studies, history (including history of science), geography, literary and cultural studies, material culture studies, museology, philosophy, psychology, and sociology.

Table of Contents

List of figures

List of tables

List of plates


1 Sensory archaeology: key concepts and debates

Robin Skeates and Jo Day



2 Digging up the sensorium: on the sensory revolution in archaeology

David Howes

3 Early theories of sense perception: Greek origins

Han Baltussen

4 Doing sensory archaeology: the challenges

Ruth Tringham and Annie Danis

5 How does it feel? Phenomenology, excavation and sensory experience: notes for a new ethnographic field practice

Christopher Tilley

6 The senses in museums: knowledge production, democratization and indigenization

Cara Krmpotich


PART II: SENSORIAL PRACTICES, contexts and materials

7 Emotion and the senses in archaeology

Ruth Nugent

8 Movement, materials and intersubjectivity: insights from western Ireland

Ryan Lash

9 Sensing death and experiencing mortuary ritual

Liv Nilsson Stutz

10 Environment and the senses

Andrew Hoaen

11 Waterfalls and moving waters: the unnatural natural and flows of cosmic forces

Terje Oestigaard

12 Darkness and light in the archaeological past: sensory perspectives

Marion Dowd

13 The sensory archaeology of textiles

Susanna Harris

14 Sensory perception and experience of glass

Chloë N. Duckworth

15 Ceremonial architecture and public events

Takeshi Inomata

16 Cities and urbanism

Jeff Veitch

17 Warfare and the senses: archaeologies of the senses and sensorial archaeologies of recent conflict

Matthew Leonard and Esther Breithoff

18 The sensory experiences of food consumption

Erica Rowan


PART III: Archaeological Case-studies by period and region

19 Stealing through the back door: sensory archaeology in the European Mesolithic

Ben Elliott

20 Sensory archaeology in Scandinavia and Finland

Astrid J. Nyland

21 Sensory Mediterranean prehistory

Robin Skeates

22 Sensory approaches to the Aegean Bronze Age

Jo Day

23 The sensory world of Mesopotamia

Augusta McMahon

24 The sensory worlds of ancient Egypt

Richard Parkinson

25 Classical archaeology and the senses: a paradigmatic shift?

Heather Hunter-Crawley

26 Experimental archaeology and (re)-experiencing the senses of the medieval


Brendan O’Neill and Aidan O’Sullivan

27 Haptic vision: making surface sense of Islamic material culture

Simon O’Meara

28 Sensorial experiences in Mesoamerica: existing scholarship and possibilities

Sarah Newman

29 Sensory archaeology in the Pueblo Southwest

Ruth M. Van Dyke

30 Sensory approaches to the woodland and Mississippian cultures of the Eastern Woodlands of North America

Corin C.O. Pursell

31 Sensory archaeology in the Pacific

Tim Thomas

32 Afterword: sensory archaeology―a work in progress

Robin Skeates and Jo Day


About the Editors

Robin Skeates is a Professor at Durham University in the UK. His research and publications explore a wide variety of themes within the overlapping fields of material, visual and sensual culture studies, and museum and heritage studies. He is author of An Archaeology of the Senses: Prehistoric Malta, which combines his specialist interests in sensory archaeology and Central Mediterranean prehistory.

Jo Day is Assistant Professor in Greek Archaeology and Curator of the Classical Museum at University College Dublin. She edited Making Senses of the Past: Toward a Sensory Archaeology, and continues to research archaeology and the senses, especially relating to the Aegean Bronze Age. She also works on early ceramic technology and ancient foodways.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Archaeology