Archaeology of the Anthropocene


  • Matt Edgeworth University of Leicester
  • Jeffrey Benjamin Columbia University
  • Bruce Clarke Texas Tech University
  • Zoe Crossland Columbia University
  • Ewa Domanska Adam Mickiewicz University
  • Alice Claire Gorman Flinders University
  • Paul Graves-Brown University College London
  • Edward Cecil Harris National Museum of Bermuda
  • Mark James Hudson University of West Kyushu
  • Jason M. Kelly Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis
  • Victor Joaquin Paz University of the Philippines, Diliman
  • Melisa Anabella Salerno Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET)
  • Christopher Witmore Texas Tech University
  • Andrés Zarankin Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais



archaeology, anthropocene, anthropology


What role will archaeology play in the Anthropocene – the proposed new geological epoch marked by human impact on Earth systems? That is the question discussed by thirteen archaeologists and other scholars from five continents in this thought-provoking forum. Their responses are diverse and wide-ranging. While Edward Harris looks to archaeological stratigraphy for a material paradigm of the Anthropocene, Alice Gorman explores the extent of human impact on orbital space and lunar surfaces – challenging the assumption that the Anthropocene is confined to Earth. Jeff Benjamin investigates the sounds of the Anthropocene. Paul Graves-Brown questions the idea that the epoch had its onset with the invention of the steam engine, while Mark Hudson uses Timothy Morton’s concept of hyperobjects to imagine the dark artefacts of the future. Victor Paz doubts the practical relevance of the concept to archaeological chronologies, and Bruce Clarke warns archaeologists to steer clear of the Anthropocene altogether, on the grounds of the overbearing hubris of the very idea of the Age of Humans. Others like Jason Kelly and Ewa Domanska regard the Anthropocene debate as an opportunity to reach new forms of understanding of Earth systems. André Zarankin and Melisa Salerno ground significant issues in the archaeology of Antarctica. And Zoe Crossland explores the vital links between the known past and the imagined future. As a discipline orientated to the future and contemporary world as well as the past, Chris Witmore concludes, archaeology in the Anthropocene will have more work than it can handle.


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Author Biographies

Matt Edgeworth, University of Leicester

Honorary Research Fellow School of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Leicester

Jeffrey Benjamin, Columbia University

PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, Columbia University (USA)

Bruce Clarke, Texas Tech University

Paul Whitfield Horn Professor of Literature and Science Department of English Texas Tech University.

Zoe Crossland, Columbia University

Assistant Professor of Archaeology, Department of Anthropology, Columbia University (USA)

Ewa Domanska, Adam Mickiewicz University

Associate Professor of Theory and History of Historiography, Department of History, Adam Mickiewicz University at Poznan (Poland)/Visiting Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Stanford University (USA).

Alice Claire Gorman, Flinders University

Lecturer in Archaeology Department of Archaeology Flinders University (Australia).

Paul Graves-Brown, University College London

Honorary Senior Research Associate, Institute of Archaeology University College London (UK).

Edward Cecil Harris, National Museum of Bermuda

Director, National Museum of Bermuda

Mark James Hudson, University of West Kyushu

Professor of Anthropology University of West Kyushu (Japan).

Jason M. Kelly, Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis

Associate Professor of British History Department of History Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (USA).

Victor Joaquin Paz, University of the Philippines, Diliman

Professor of Archaeology Archaeology Studies Program, University of the Philippines Diliman (Philippines).

Melisa Anabella Salerno, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET)

Research Scholar Instituto Multidisciplinario de Historia y Ciencias Humanas Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (Argentina).

Christopher Witmore, Texas Tech University

Associate Professor of Archaeology Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures Texas Tech University (USA).

Andrés Zarankin, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

Associate Professor of Archaeology Departamento de Antropologia e Arqueologia Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (Brazil).


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How to Cite

Edgeworth, M., Benjamin, J., Clarke, B., Crossland, Z., Domanska, E., Gorman, A. C., Graves-Brown, P., Harris, E. C., Hudson, M. J., Kelly, J. M., Paz, V. J., Salerno, M. A., Witmore, C., & Zarankin, A. (2014). Archaeology of the Anthropocene. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, 1(1), 73–132.