The theme of the conference, Archaeology as a source of theory, takes as its starting point a well-known paradox in current archaeology. Our discipline has long been used in other fields as a metaphor for exploring the unconscious, uncovering an unknown past, or investigating origins. On the other hand, archaeology has a tradition of borrowing and applying theories from other fields, rather than developing theoretical approaches within archaeology itself. It is as if traces from the past are difficult to use in theory building. Only recently have some attempts been made to overcome this situation.

Starting from this theoretical paradox, we invite colleagues to XIV Nordic TAG to explore the potential of archaeology as its own source of theory. The aim of these explorations is to contribute not only to archaeological thinking but also to dialogues with other scholarly fields. Many aspects of the discipline may provide inspiration, with suggestions for this conference including archaeology as craft, and themes of time and materiality.

Archaeology as a craft may include reconsiderations of classic issues of stratigraphy and typology, as well as bodily knowledge of digging, surveying and documenting or the art of the trowel, the pen, the measuring instrument, the camera or the computer. The theme of time includes aspects such as long term perspectives, encountering time through space, breaking down time barriers, or reconsidering origins, processes, changes and continuities. Materiality has recently been centre-staged through the “material turn”, but we suggest that more specific aspects of materiality can be explored further, such as surfaces, traces, fragments, rubbish, styles and copies.

We look forward to critical discussions about these and related issues, encouraging archaeological thinking and archaeological contributions to wider scholarly debates.