This book is highly recommended, particularly for food historians who want to step away from their musty old texts to imagine what it would be like to work in the dirt for a while. Archaeology is a closely related sister discipline, though not well represented among the myriad fields that make up food studies today.
Firing off ideas and arguments in all directions, Jussi Parikka’s What is Media Archaeology? is an exciting and excitable contribution to cultural theory. The book begins by outlining the strands of historical and cultural enquiry, as well as the artistic practices, that currently constitute what he terms ‘media archaeology’.
One can hardly imagine that several decades ago the concept of spolia did not yet indicate a field of widespread research in the history of architecture, art and archaeology. The title of this volume with 12 essays and a fascinating introduction, points to this change in research focus, since the value of reuse of objects and materials has not always been recognized.
No one would deny that Pompeii, the city destroyed by the forces of nature – as when, in the words of the poet Leopardi, ‘an overripe tomato falls on an anthill’ – has attained the status of an archetype, outpacing even Atlantis (whose story must now be explained to the unfamiliar in terms of the fate of Pompeii).
The heart of City Government from its establishment in the 12th century until the present-day, the Guildhall of the City of London remains perhaps our best link with the medieval city. This extensive history is, for the first time, considered in its entirety in this volume, an archaeological history of its site from the earliest post-Roman occupation until the present day.
Post-classical archaeology emerged into the limelight in Italy in the 1970s, in particular with the founding of the national journal Archeologia Medievale in 1974 (whose principal editor and driving force, Riccardo Francovich, was recently killed in a tragic accident).