Chapter 2 // A Stratigraphy of Vessels
As the excavation went on, the archaeologists were trying to untangle this mesh of soil, pottery, bones, roots, river residues and human structures.
And when things cleared up, there was this unique moment where three different temporalities were exposed all at once. I documented this idea creating a speculative section-diagram, recognizing 3 extended layers on the excavation site, one above the other. The diagram proposes the opposite of a fixed space, one that is constantly evolving. It attempts to capture the “open-ended and multidirectional” itineraries of the materials through the layers / temporalities and the interrelations evolving among them:
-The lower one, layer (-1) is the ancient layer which the archaeologists are interested in. The materials and human vestiges - which can now only be seen as mere materials - bear information of a distant past.
-The next is layer (0). It’s the excavated soil that was removed to expose layer (-1). The materials and fragments found in it bear information of a recent past, one in which the archaeologists of our time don’t have great interest in it so it is disposed for now. It's the layer that bridges the gap between the distant past and present time, the so called layer (+1) which is right above.
- Layer (+1), is the layer where modern life is happening, where us, the people working in the excavation, act and leave material traces.
To explore this idea further I created a material narrative.
Searching the surrounding area I collected disposed materials which along with characteristic findings for each one of the 3 temporalities, made an installation. Found materials, of non-recognizable source and dating, blend with the findings, creating a multilayer structure, while the use of the transparency of the glass reinforces the idea of interrelations and movement between temporalities.
The process, from exploring to collecting and building the structure, led me to perceive the site as a site full of vessels, both literally and metaphorically. Vessels - or containers - of objects, information and ideas.
Looking through the material collections of the three temporalities, after they were placed in position, a transition on material culture was evident. A switch from the word of tangible objects and materials to the word of the intangible, the digital and the ideas.
*(ENG : vessel or pot, GR : αγγείο, IT: vaso)
A first reading of the stratigraphic units
SU(-1). The grave is a vessel for bones, the bones are a container of information for the anthropologists.
SU(0). Plates and glasses as vessels for food and liquid. They also contain information of the aesthetics and preferences of the time.
SU(+1). Pc Hard disk as vessel for information, music record as a fragment of sound, ultrasound print depicting a baby in a womb as a metaphysical container of life or the proof of it in our modern times. The archaeologist of the future will never be able to hear the whole music track. There will only be a fragment of sound and one should have to make assumptions on the rest. Perhaps there will also be a technological method that will be able to retrieve the data contained in a disc no longer working. But for now it’s the archaeologist that needs to preserve the material evidence of a given technology, in order to ensure their future use.