Digital Sensoriality: The Neolithic Figurines from Koutroulou Magoula, Greece
Costas Papadopoulos, Yannis Hamilakis, Nina Kyparissi-Apostolika & Marta Díaz-Guardamino Cambridge Archaeological Journal 29.4 (2019): 625-652
The image-based discourse on clay figurines that treated them as merely artistic representations, the meaning of which needs to be deciphered through various iconological methods, has been severely critiqued and challenged in the past decade. This discourse, however, has largely shaped the way that figurines are depicted in archaeological iterations and publications, and it is this corpus of images that has in turn shaped further thinking and discussion on figurines, especially since very few people are able to handle the original, three-dimensional, physical objects. Building on the changing intellectual climate in figurine studies, we propose here a framework that treats figurines as multi-sensorial, affective and dynamic objects, acting within distinctive, relational fields of sensoriality. Furthermore, we situate a range of digital, computational methods within this framework in an attempt to deprive them of their latent Cartesianism and mentalism, and we demonstrate how we have applied them to the study of Neolithic figurines from the site of Koutroulou Magoula in Greece. We argue that such methodologies, situated within an experiential framework, not only provide new means of understanding, interpretation and dissemination, but, most importantly, enable researchers and the public to explore the sensorial affordances and affective potential of things, in the past as well as in the present.