archaeologist @ Stanford

Senior founding faculty of Stanford Archaeology Center, Michael is a Professor of Classics, a member of the Center for Design Research in Stanford's d.school, and teaches in the Programs in Writing and Rhetoric, Science Technology and Society, Urban Studies, as well as Classics and Archaeology.

Michael was a codirector of Stanford Humanities Lab (2005-2009 - exploring new treatments and initiatives in the Humanities), and Stanford Revs Program (2010-2015 - connecting automotive heritage with contemporary car design). He is also a member of the excavations of the Roman town of Binchester in the UK - Ptolemy's Vinovium.

Research interests and expertise

  • Design research and thinking - archaeology offering exceptional insight into how we understand creativity, innovation, change, and our dependency on goods

  • The development and history of city living - rooted in research into Greek and Roman cities.

  • The northern provincial borders of the Roman empire, and after.

  • Cultural heritage - the way the past conditions who we are, the way we act, the way we view the future.

  • Long-term social and cultural modeling - a key to planning the future - rooted in archaeology because it is the only access to most of human history.

  • New media - particularly the prospect of participatory and cocreative media - because we always experience the world through media.

  • Collaborative networks and agile project management - not least because an archaeologist can only work to understand long term change with the most diverse of colleagues and with the active participation of stakeholder interests in the remains of the past.

  • Exploring the archaeological imagination

    What is archaeology? Archaeology is what archaeologists do. This answer is not a tautology. It refers us to the practices of archaeology. And to the conditions under which archaeologists work - the institutions and infrastructures, the politics and pragmatics of getting archaeological work done.

    If history is about understanding the past, archaeology is about what we do with what remains of the past in the present. Archaeologists work on what is left of the past. Archaeology is about relationships - between past and present, between archaeologist and traces and remains. Archaeology is a set of practices that connect past and present - working with what remains to translate, to turn them into something sensible - inventory, account, story, explanation, whatever.

    Archaeology is a way of acting and thinking - about what is left of the past, about the temporality of remainder, about material and temporal processes like loss and decay to which people and their goods are subject, about the processes of order and entropy, of making, consuming and discarding at the heart of human experience.

    "Archaeological Sensibility" and "Archaeological Imagination" are terms that summarize these mediating and transformative practices. Sensibility refers us to the perceptual components of how we engage with the remains of the past. Imagination refers us to the creative component - to the transforming work that is done with what is left over.

    Archaeology - working with what remains - this means we are all archaeologists now.