Space Archaeologist Sarah Parcak and More
On Friday November 8, the second session of the start-up Biographies! Book Club will feature Sarah Parcak’s 2019 book entitled "Archaeology from Space: How the Future shapes our Past." Come to the Discussion Room on the 3rd floor of the Toronto Reference Library from 2-3:30 pm and share your thoughts and opinions about how the future shapes the past and vice-versa. Hear about and discuss the role of space technology in research, ancient Egypt and careers of women in science. Moderated by Steven B. Shubert of Toronto Reference Library’s Humanities and Social Sciences Department.
Sarah Parcak is a National Geographic Explorer, a TED Prize-winner and has appeared at Chris Hatfield’s Generator event. As an archaeologist, Dr. Parcak has taken on a mission to engage the public with archaeology in general, and with her specialty in space archaeology in particular. The application of new remote sensing technologies, such as lidar, is having a significant impact on our understanding of the past. For Sarah Parcak archaeology is nothing less than “the sum total of human history and knowledge.” She suggests that archaeology is not only a pathway to a discovery of our past, but also that archaeology can inspire people all over the world to a future full of wonder.
Sarah Parcak works in a long tradition of women in archaeology, whose names may not be as well-known as Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890 who worked at Troy), Arthur Evans (1851-1941 who worked on Crete) and Howard Carter (1874-1939 who worked in Egypt). You can check out the fascinating stories of female archaeologists in the Library’s collection. For example, Ladies of the Field: Early Women Archaeologists and their Search for Adventure (2010) by Amanda Adams covers the lives of a number of women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Prominent among them are Amelia Edwards (1831-1892, who worked in Egypt), Gertrude Bell (1868-1926, who worked in Iraq) and Harriet Boyd Hawes (1871-1945, who worked on Crete).
Another work tracing the gendered development of archaeology is Breaking Ground: Pioneering Women Archaeologists (2006 pbk ed.) edited by Getzel M. Cohen and Martha S. Joukowsky. Although a number of the same women are covered, one can mention in addition Edith Dohan (1879-1943 who worked on Crete), Hetty Goldman (1881-1972 who worked at Tarsus in Turkey) and Kathleen Kenyon (1906-1978, who worked at Jericho).
Finally, no history of archaeology would be complete without the mention of drama and scandal. See for example, Archaeology, Sexism, and Scandal: the long-suppressed story of one woman's discoveries and the man who stole credit for them (2014) by Alan Kaiser. This book tells the story of Mary Ross Ellingson (1908-1993) who worked on the excavations at Olynthus in Greece with David M. Robinson (1880-1958).
If you are interested in space archeology, ancient Egypt, how we look at the past and the role of women in archaeology, why not come out on November 8 to the Toronto Reference Library and contribute to the discussion?