Modern Imagination Draws the Past into the Present

Wed, 02/06/2013

A research method is a complex means for human beings to experience the world in ways that they are not biologically well suited to accomplish. In biology or physics, this can be mean replacing travel to the microscopic or interstellar worlds. In archaeology, our methods substitute a trip to the past. It is an urgent trip as each year, more and more evidence of the past is destroyed. Paradoxically, the further the future has taken us from the past, the better our means to investigate the past have become.

 

On Wednesday, February 6 at 6:30 p.m. in the Campus Center Auditorium, Classics Professor Eric Poehler will deliver the talk “The roles of innovation and imagination in the archaeology of Pompeii.” The presentation will explore how archaeology in the 21st century is looking to reel in the past.

 

With the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, Italy, and the monumental Quadriporticus building, as an example, the current methods used by archaeologists and those being imagined for the first time, will be examined. As expected, technical innovation will play a starring role in this story and the importance of iPads, databases, laser scanners, spectrometers, and even drones will be made plain. But, so too will the value of human imagination be emphasized, an element of all research so pervasive that it is nearly always overlooked.

 

Eric Poehler is an assistant professor of classics and a classical archaeologist with sixteen years of field experience at Pompeii, Italy and another seven years at the Pan-Hellenic sanctuary at Isthmia, Greece. Poehler co-directs the Pompeii Quadriporticus Project, an archaeological investigation of one of the largest monumental structures at Pompeii that employs non-invasive methodologies and cutting-edge research technologies. He is the author of fifteen articles on the infrastructure of the ancient city and co-editor of a recent volume, Pompeii: Art, Industry, and Infrastructure. Poehler has a long involvement in the digital humanities, beginning in 2001 as part of The Pompeii Forum Project’s work with the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia. In 2006 he founded Pompeiana.org as a central, online location for digital information about Pompeii. Most recently, Poehler has founded the Pompeii Bibliography and Mapping Project, an online resource for Pompeian scholarship.