January 17, 2016 2 P.M.
“Monuments, Ontologies, and Translations: Belle Glade Monumentality in the Okeechobee Basin”
Nathan Lawres, M.A.
“Archaeologists have always been interested in the material aspects of life. This doesn’t necessarily mean just the material objects of life, but rather includes those material things (living and nonliving) that people interact with, along with the materials they transform into the various objects used in life. After all, these material aspects, both the objects and interactions, are what eventually form the archaeological record. Recently, however, archaeologists have become interested in how understandings of reality, of how the world exists – understandings that are known as ontologies – can affect cultural practices and how those practices become materialized. In other words, there is a growing interest in how understandings of reality affect the ways people interact with material things (both living and non) and the production of material objects. This talk focuses on a relatively neglected aspect of this: how an ontology can be materialized as monumental architecture. In order to discuss this, I will present the monuments of the Belle Glade archaeological culture, located within the Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades watershed, as a case study. Evidence from this region points to the presence of a relational ontology, in which the world is created and maintained through numerous and ongoing relationships. I argue that this understanding of reality is encapsulated within the Belle Glade monumental architecture and the architecture itself invokes references to relations with water, the cosmos, seasonality, people, and places throughout the landscape.”