This month’s Caraheard podcast is really good. Richard and I talk with Ömür Harmanşah about a wide range of topics from ISIS’s destruction of antiquities to salvage archaeology in the Near East. There’s almost no excuse not to drop everything and listen to our podcast immediately.
In some ways, this podcast was a follow up from an earlier conversation that Richard and I had in Episode 4 of season 1 (and which Richard on his blog explored here) but Ömür brought to our conversation a more subtle perspective drawn in part from his recent publication in Near Eastern Archaeology, “ISIS, Heritage, and the Spectacles of Destruction in the Global Media. For more of his work, check out his academia.edu page.
Ömür’s perspective is quite distinct from the widely circulated Atlantic Monthly article by Graeme Wood which sees ISIS as a Medieval state. We discussed the very modern and very capitalist realities of ISIS’s involvement in antiquities trade and the destruction of antiquities.
We are also critical (albeit not in an entirely negative way) of ASOR’s Syrian Cultural Heritage Initiative, Ömür introduces us to the work of Severin Fowles especially his An Archaeology of Doings: Secularism and the Study of Pueblo Religion (Santa Fe 2013), and we explore the idea of political ecology in the anthropocene (with special reference to Lucy Lippard’s Undermining which I blogged about here).
As evidence for this ranging conversation, we discuss the intersection of religion and capital in Saudi Arabian attitudes toward sacred and historic landscapes, attitudes toward various pasts in Beirut, and the Georgian monastery at Yiallia on Cyprus which I blogged about here. No Caraheard podcast is complete without a reference to E.P. Thompson.
Ömür’s project is the Yalburt Yaylası Archaeological Landscape Research Project. You can read more about Tim Matney’s project at Ziyaret Tepe here.