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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

Research Postgraduates

Publication details for Ms Emily Hanscam

Hanscam, Emily (2015), The Social Context of Archaeology in Romania: teaching field methodology alongside an Orthodox holy site, 21st Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists. Glasgow, University of Glasgow.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper presents the final results of an archaeological ethnography undertaken from 2014-2015 in the annual field school at
Halmyris, a Roman legionary fort in the Romanian Danube Delta. It attempts to understand how the social context of Halmyris
reflects ongoing national tensions within Romania, how the 27 western students involved in 2014 used the archaeological site
as a focal point through which to understand the national space, and how the yearly presence of foreigners affected local
culture and identity as related to the site. It examines how the student’s experiences on the site impacted their developing
perception of self as archaeologists and how it influenced their theoretical understanding of archaeology. Halmyris hosts an
annual Orthodox pilgrimage which forces the students to confront and absorb massive contradictions about Romania involving
wealth, poverty, faith, the use of antiquities, and the role of Halmyris. The wider social context of a site is rarely so obvious,
and the students spend the rest of their time at Halmyris trying to deal with the tensions they see and the newfound realization
that archaeologists cannot control the knowledge they produce. This study also focuses on the students who chose to return to Halmyris in 2015, examining their understanding of the social and political environment of the site from their more experienced
position. The students' engagement and education in rural Romania greatly impacts their understanding of the sociopolitical
aspects of archaeology, thereby influencing their development as archaeologists in a globalized world.


Conference date: 2-5 September 2015