Abstract: Dream Archaeology


For over 1000 years excavators have relied upon dreams to guide them to hidden treasures, sacred buildings, and lost relics.  St. Helena’s excavations of fragments of the true cross and other stories of invention inspired later Christian archaeologists to follow the inspiration of dream to find sacred relics. The practice was consistent and widespread enough to qualify as a form of Byzantine indigenous archaeology. In more recent times, excavators as revered as Anastasios Orlandos and Manolis Andronikos have recognized the influence of dreams on their own excavations. As Y. Hamilakis and C. Stewart have shown in their recent work that archaeological dreams played a key role in the developing Greek national consciousness. They do not, however, link these modern archaeological dreams explicitly to Byzantine and Early Christian practices.  This paper will not necessarily establish an irrefutable connection between modern and Byzantine dreams or argue for the presence of some unconscious continuity. Instead, I will sketch the outlines of an indigenous archaeology in Byzantine times and consider how such pre-modern practices can influence our ideas of archaeological knowledge in more recent times.

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