Phenomenological Reviews

Series | Book | Chapter


Did homo erectus dwell?

Heidegger, archaeology and the future of phenomenology

Philip Tonner

pp. 141-165


Following the interpretive turn in the 1980s, archaeologists have increasingly found inspiration in the works of Martin Heidegger. Gosden's Social Being and Time and Thomas' Time, Culture and Identity are important works in this regard. Now, archaeologists speak of the "dwelling perspective': a perspective that stresses the agent's sensuous experience of living and acting in the world. Recently, Gamble has adopted a phenomenological perspective and has brought interpretation of the Palaeolithic (2,500,000–10,000 years ago) into the purview of this interpretive agenda. This chapter will outline key aspects of this critical appropriation of Heidegger by archaeologists as well as detailing one aspect of Heidegger's thought that can usefully inform archaeology. I will argue that evidence for mortuary practice deep in the human past is evidence for the advent of a form of engagement that begins to "face up to mortality.' Might such behaviour, discernible by archaeology, record the advent of dwelling in Heidegger's sense in human prehistory? Discussion of these two related senses of dwelling (as an approach and as a mode of engagement) will show how and why Heidegger's thought is relevant to archaeology.

Publication details

Published in:

Georgakis Tziovanis, Ennis Paul J. (2015) Heidegger in the twenty-first century. Dordrecht, Springer.

Pages: 141-165

DOI: 10.1007/978-94-017-9679-8_9

Full citation:

Tonner Philip (2015) „Did homo erectus dwell?: Heidegger, archaeology and the future of phenomenology“, In: T. Georgakis & P. J. Ennis (eds.), Heidegger in the twenty-first century, Dordrecht, Springer, 141–165.