Substance, Surface and Medium

A UCL Institute of Archaeology Annual Conference
Friday 15 – Sunday 17 May 2009



Abstracts & Pre-papers


Notes for Pre-Paper Authors






The programme is now available!

Conference Scope

Whereas content meaning has been the main focus of research on written evidence, this international conference seeks to explore past ‘writing’ and related symbolic modes in relation to material practice, performance and sensory experience. Papers will emphasise the artefactual nature of writing—the ways in which materials, techniques, colour, scale, orientation or visibility inform the creation of inscribed objects and landscapes, and structure subsequent engagement, perception and meaning making.


  • Defining ‘Writing’: How do we know when writing is ‘writing’? Is this category appropriate for characterising past forms of graphical symbolic expression?
  • Scribal Technology: How do materials, tools and technological choices relate to the expression and meaning of writing?
  • Inscribed Object Worlds: How does the substance, surface, shape or size of an object inform the expression and meaning of writing thereon?
  • Writing as Embodied Practice and Performance: How does the physical expression of writing inform physical and sensory engagements?
  • Methodology: What practice- and materials-based methods can be developed for the study of past writing, from documentation during excavation, analysis, interpretation and publication, to teaching and learning?

 Conference Format

  • Papers will be pre-circulated 2 weeks in advance. As of 1 May, pre-papers will be available in PDF format to registered delegates via password protected download.
  • On the day, each paper author will be allotted 10 minutes to summarise the main points of their paper. The remainder of the session will be dedicated to the combined discussion of all papers assigned to a given session.


Dr. Kathryn E. Piquette
Prof. Ruth Whitehouse

To be added to the conference email list, and for any other queries contact: materialityofwriting@googlemail.com

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Page last updated on 13 May 2009