The gravity of Archaeology

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Abstract

One of the defining features of the material culture of space exploration is the fact that much of it is “out there”: in orbit around celestial bodies and on planetary surfaces. In outer space, we have to rethink the meaning of place. Cartesian coordinates must be replaced with equations of motion to describe the ceaseless movement of heavenly objects in relation to centres of gravity. Archaeological sites in space are not solid condensations of artefacts, hundreds or thousands of years compressed into layers perhaps only centimetres deep. The materials of an archaeological deposit become rather a cloud or swarm. But for both Earth and space, gravity is the structuring force. In this paper I want to reconceptualise archaeological sites according to their position in the gravity well, using dynamical systems and Riemann surfaces. I then consider the Mir space station as an example of a site existing simultaneously on Earth and in orbit, as a preliminary excur

Author-supplied keywords

  • Gravity
  • Mir space station
  • Orbital debris
  • Space archaeology

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Authors

  • Alice Gorman

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