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Deciphering the Elements: Cultural meanings of water in an island setting
With Dr Helen Dawson
Wednesday, 2 March 2022
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This event is free and open to everyone.
Islands offer an ideal setting for exploring an “archaeology of water” in its many forms. Water obviously surrounds islands but can be found also above and below ground within the island itself. Where present, groundwater often acted as a magnet for initial settlement, but islanders also invested water with cultural, social, and symbolic meaning. From the earliest known wells in the world on the island of Cyprus to Sardinia’s sacred water temples, from the volcanic spring sanctuaries of the Aeolian Islands and Pantelleria to the stillicide water in cave sanctuaries on Ustica (Sicily), the archaeological record of the Mediterranean islands offer translating clues to these hidden meanings.
Dr Helen Dawson is a Senior Research Fellow at JICAS, adjunct professor at the Department of History and Culture at the University of Bologna, and associate research fellow at the Department of Prehistory at the Freie Universität Berlin. She has extensive fieldwork experience and a special interest in islands, which goes back to her first dig as an undergraduate in Barbados in 1997, followed by more fieldwork in the islands of the Mediterranean (Sicily, Cyprus, the Cyclades), a topic on which she has published widely.