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Working The Night Shift: Life After Dark In The Ancient World

  • 22 Mar 2022
  • 6:00 PM
  • University of Toronto St George Campus, Room TBA 27 King's College Circle Toronto, Ontario M5S Canada

Working The Night Shift: Life After Dark In The Ancient World

AIA Society: Toronto
Lecturer: April Nowell

As twilight settled in the ancient world, a host of activities ensued, some of which were significantly different from what people did during the daytime.  Some artifacts, features, and buildings associated with these activities were particular to the dark, while other material culture was transformed in meaning as the sun set. So much of our economic, social, and ritual lives take place at night and yet, until recently, relatively little archaeological research has been undertaken specifically on nocturnal quotidian practices. Many tasks are uniquely suited to the affordances of nighttime.  Night is often quieter, and its darkness provides refuge from heat and offers freedom from surveillance and from the demands of the day. In this talk, I consider those who worked the “nightshift” in ancient societies—from the hunters, agriculturists, sewage workers, and ironsmiths to the poets, navigators, and rebellion leaders.  Drawing on archaeological data and textual evidence, I argue that nighttime in the ancient world was anything but sleepy.

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