Telling Great stories: A Panel

Ontario Archaeological Society Symposium, 2020
John Lorinc (Spacing Magazine), Holly Martelle (TMHC Inc.), Paul Racher (ARA Ltd.), Ron Williamson (ASI)

Archaeology can be synonymous with dry and boring or with adventure and discovery. Which it is depends very much on how we talk about archaeology. When we think about it in terms of artifact lists and trait tables and whether a site has further CHVI…well…yawn. But, when we think about how privileged archaeologists are to have a window onto the lives of people in the past, well we can tell fascinating and compelling stories.

Some of our members and associates excel at engaging people with archaeological tales. You know who these people are because at conferences people crowd into the rooms where they are presenting. Audiences roar with laughter or, alternatively, are completely silent as they follow every word spoken. Their stories are written about in the national press. Members anticipate and read their columns in internal newsletters. All your friends and relations are asking you if you saw that documentary. They publish popular books intended for a general audience, and people buy these! Imagine that!

In this panel, four great archaeological storytellers discuss their practice, including who their audiences are, what makes a story compelling, how they think about and map out the stories they tell, how they grapple with voice and issues of possible appropriation, and why archaeological storytelling is important.

Moderated by Alicia Hawkins