I had never given a thought to my father’s effect on archaeology until I received this email from Dr. Alasdair Brooks, an archaeologist working in Australia [a.brooksATlatrobe.edu.au AFTER YOU REPLACE AT WITH @]. He wrote:
You might be interested in an academic paper that I’ve written about your father’s work…The premise of the paper is that your father, while obviously primarily concerned with other themes, was very sensitive to many of the issues that are relevant to modern archaeological interpretation, particularly as concerns the near-mythic power of representations of the past. As such, much of his work can be used as an allegory within which these issues can be discussed.
Actual direct references to archaeology or archaeological sites in CS are rare. For archaeology itself, there are passing references in ‘The Lady Who Sailed the Soul’ and (more obliquely) ‘On the Gem Planet’. Archaeological sites include the temple of Diana of the Ephesians (the Palace of the Governor of Night in Norstrilia) and Mount Vernon (Magno Taliano’s jonasoidal ship in ‘The Burning of the Brain’). But beyond these direct references, CS’s work has many examples which can be used to illustrate the importance of the past – whether mythic or historical – in the meaningful construction of the present. Indeed, this is arguably a very basic principle underlying the Rediscovery of Man.
Perhaps even more interesting from an archaeological perspective is ‘A Planet Named Shayol’. While it may perhaps be open to question as to whether or not this was CS’s intent, the almost total absence of material culture (the objects constructed by humans) of any form – apart from B’dikket’s cabin – very much helps to emphasise the dehumanisation of Shayol’s ‘herds’ of people.
This email was originally published in an ezine I did several years ago, so the paper must be available.
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