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Durham University

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An Archaeology of the Senses: Prehistoric Malta

A research project of the Department of Archaeology.


This book aims to establish a well-defined methodology for an archaeology of the senses, produce a challenging new synthesis of Maltese prehistoric archaeology, and provide a rich archaeological case-study for the new field of sensual culture studies. The introduction defines ‘sensual culture’ as peoples’ multi-sensory experiences and perceptions of the world and their construction of culturally diverse sense-based values and orders. Part 1 critically explores the history of prehistoric archaeology in Malta and its prioritising of the sense of sight at the expense of the other human senses. Part 2 presents a detailed archaeological reconstruction of the rich sensual culture of the prehistoric Maltese Temple Period (3800-2500 BC), with particular reference to four archaeologically-defined spatial contexts: the landscape, houses, temples, and caves. Part 3 explores the character and transformation of successive sensual cultures in prehistoric Malta. The conclusion then highlights a theme of power in relation to the long-term use and evaluation of the senses in prehistoric Malta.

Published Results

Authored book

  • Skeates, Robin (2010). An Archaeology of the Senses: Prehistoric Malta. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Chapter in book

  • Skeates, Robin (2007). Religious experience in the prehistoric Maltese underworld. In Cult in Context: Reconsidering Ritual in Archaeology. Barrowclough, David & Malone, Caroline Oxford: Oxbow Books. 90-96.


From the Department of Archaeology

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