CFP: Invented Civilizations

We are inviting paper proposals for a planned session at the EAA conference in Zadar, Croatia, 19-23 September 2007


Atlantis image

Organised by Michael Jasmin (CNRS – France ; Harvard University – USA) and Cornelius Holtorf (University of Lund, Sweden)

Western civilization has not only brought about the discipline of Archaeology but also an astonishing number of invented civilizations in the visual arts and creative fiction. Ever since the invention of Atlantis and El Dorado, it has been popular to thrive in fictitious cultures. Among the most prominent examples are in literature: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth. H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, C.S. Lewis’ Narnia; in contemporary art: Anne and Patrick Poirier’s imaginary ruin sites, Charles Simmonds’ remains of the Little People, Civilisation Pessinoise of Marc Pessin, the Arenot civilizations of Beauvais Lyons, the BaPe’s of Richard Purdy, or the works of Joan Fontecuberta, and the Glozel site-civilization by Emile Fradin/Antonin Morlet.

One may also think of Mu, Lemuria, Camelot, the Kingdom of Prester John, the lost civilization of Teegeeack, the Klingons in Star Treck, the Khuza culture, as well as Arcadia and the ancient gods on Mt Olympus. This session investigates the characteristics of constructed civilizations such as these.

Intriguingly, there is often a great deal of documentation available in either primary or secondary literature about these invented worlds: descriptions, sketches and drawings of sites and architecture, even entire writing systems. Sometimes material culture exists too, whether bones, pots or the remains of entire sites.

The issues to be addressed in this session include the social reality of invented pasts, the experience of aura and authenticity, the relations between artistic freedom and scientific fraud, and new deliberations concerning art and archaeology: is there anything archaeologists can learn from the success and popularity of invented civilizations? What are these fictions telling us about the public’s interest in the past or about the archaeological way of documenting and exhibiting archaeological sites and finds?

We are inviting stimulating papers discussing any kind of invented civilization. (Subject to acceptance of the session by the conference organizers.)

If you are interested in participating, please contact us!

Michael Jasmin:
Cornelius Holtorf:

Further information about the conference:

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