Article ID: CBB427316675

Civilizing mummies: An adventure of technicians in archaeological collections (2022)


In this article, I follow the work of technicians organizing a collection of mummified materials in a university of Chile. In doing this, I translate some points of laboratory studies into another context: a deposit of archaeological collections. By following how technicians sort out the collections and exploring their roles in the making of knowledges tinged by hands-on experience, I unravel with a “Whiteheadean twist” how conservation practices are a matter of concern in archaeology. Insofar the mummies are preserved as “material heritages” and witnessed in public as “carriers of civilization,” these “ambassadors of the past” are haunted in turn by their histories. But in the hands of technicians, I speculate that mummified materials become archeological objects imbued with a particular mode of existence. Through their work, they get to know the life-histories of mummies and in such stories, I focus on a sense of permanence, felt as an ideal purpose of conservation in archaeological collections. I analyze this with Whitehead’s notion of civilization to underscore how conservation processes aim at attaining everlasting things. In this sense, I develop the point that civilizations function as lures for collecting and preserving things.

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Authors & Contributors
Tironi, Manuel
Ureta, Sebastián
Maite P. Salazar
Daniel Valenzuela
Manuel Tironi
Rodrigo A. Gutiérrez
Tapuya: Latin American Science, Technology and Society
Social Studies of Science
Science, Technology and Human Values
Engineering Studies
The Journal of Transport History
Springer International Publishing
Technoscience; science and technology studies
Disasters; catastrophes
Time Periods
21st century
20th century, late

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