Past Event

Meira Gold - Territorial Soils: Egyptology, Agriculture, and the Colonial Politics of Field Sites

March 22, 2023
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
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Online and in-person: Gallatin School (Room 527), New York University, 1 Washington Place, New York

Event Description 

When Victorian archaeologists began overseeing large-scale excavations in the Egyptian Delta in the 1880s, they capitalized on the colonial infrastructure of the cotton trade—especially agricultural land and labor. Foreign excavators recruited workforces from landless Fellahin, local Bedouin, and young villagers to dig ancient soil through the winter months before the annual Nile inundation in the summer. Most archaeological sites were moreover buried under tells (artificial mounds) and situated on modern farmland. Territorial disputes were commonplace. Archaeologists sought to preserve the soil in situ, while farmers needed to rotate and redistribute it. The messy growth of British Egyptology was therefore predicated on the identification, popularization, demarcation, and especially, long-distance control of a new scientific space termed the “field site.” This talk will denaturalize the field site by exploring the literal shared ground between archaeology and agriculture, and the process by which Pharaonic ruins were made archaeological through Egyptian dispossession and exploitation. 

Event Speaker

Meira Gold, Assistant Professor at New York University Gallatin

Event Information

This event is free and open to the public; Registration required. In-person registration closes at 12PM on the event day. In-person attendees must follow NYU's COVID-19 policies. Online attendees will receive a Zoom link from Eventbrite. Contact [email protected] or [email protected] for questions. 

This event is part of the New York History of Science Lecture Series.

Sponsoring Organizations:

  • The University Seminars at Columbia University
  • Columbia University in the City of New York
  • NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study
  • The Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • The New York Academy of Medicine
  • The New York Academy of Sciences