NASTA aims to provide a space to discuss narrative and storytelling in archaeology through a one-day virtual conference that focuses on how we can think about our knowledge, and how we can communicate this to our audiences.
Humans have an intrinstic need for storytelling. If we need stories, then what are the most important stories to tell? They’re the stories of us. But as humans, we also imagine worlds other than our own, and delight in the imagination of others. It is no surprise that people turn to archaeology for entertaining stories, with a legacy in popular media of adventurous tales told through characters such as Indiana Jones and Lara Croft, and the popularisation of grand (and often problematic) archaeological narratives shared on popular platforms such as History Channel, Discovery Channel, and National Geographic.
Yet we must not forget the stories we tell as archaeologists. Archaeology is not innocent of grand narratives that stood the test of time. Not through their quality, but because they have been ingrained in the memory of the masses and are now difficult to change. It is our responsibility to learn how to engage (with) the general public, outside the ivory tower of academia. So what can we do about this? If we as archaeologists want to increase our impact with the stories we tell, what should these stories look like? And which mediums should we use to do so most effectively? This is what we set out to discuss at NASTA. We could write popular science books and theatre plays, create video games, publish children’s books and write comics. We can learn from each other and share unique insights and best practices. We can and should tell new stories.
Iris Korver, MA studied Heritage, Memory and Archaeology at the University of Amsterdam. Her thesis focuses on iron waste material in the Pontine Plain in Pre-Roman Italy; however, her interests go beyond Italy and as such, she has excavated in Greece, Turkey and the Netherlands. Iris joined the organising committee in 2021 due to her experience in the different countries and how they subsequently deal in conveying archaeological narratives.
Zoë van Litsenburg is a postgraduate research student of Caribbean zooarchaeology. Her research focuses on the relation between humans and animals on Indigenous Hispaniola through the lens of Indigenous perspectivisms. She has a particular affinity for turtles, fish, and birds, and creating accessible archaeological narratives geared towards children. Besides working in the Caribbean she also excavated in Cyprus where she adopted a street cat. She is joining the NASTA 2022 organizing committee in her search for new ways to smash stereotypes within archaeological storytelling.
Brodhie Molloy is studying her master’s in Heritage, Memory and Archaeology at the University of Amsterdam. Her research focuses on investigating how archaeology is useful to current society. She is particularly interested in exploring how archaeological stories can challenge preconceptions and attitudes towards contemporary homelessness. Brodhie joined the organising committee in 2022 because she hopes to continue exploring the power of storytelling and narratives in connecting the public to archaeology and vice versa.
Aris is a lecturer for the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East at the Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University, and a postdoctoral researcher at the Leiden University Center for Arts in Society working on the Past-at-Play Lab project. His research focuses on ancient Near Eastern empires, the archaeology of the Eastern Mediterranean, the archaeology of Play, and the archaeological study of video games. He is also a co-founding member of the VALUE Foundation and has published extensively on the topic of video games and archaeology.
James is the Professor of Historical Archaeology (North of the Alps) at the University of Amsterdam. He enjoys teaching archaeological theory and promoting contemporary archaeology. James has not been out of the house much recently and joined the organizing committee because he likes a good story and thought it might lead to free drinks.
Sam Miske studied Heritage, Memory, and Archaeology on a postgraduate level at the University of Amsterdam. His research focuses on colonial heritage, social and cultural history, and critical theory. Sam is currently pursuing a PhD at the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam.