Institute of Archaeology


David Fallon

The Assemblage of the Mind. An Archaeological Rhythmanalysis of Living in Ancient Merv


Email: david.fallon.15@ucl.ac.uk
Section: World Archaeology



The development, implementation and testing of an archaeological Rhythmanalysis of urbanscapes. This research project will address the question of whether urban spaces are an assemblage of the mind; an archive expressed as materialised experience? In exploring the question of how we can discern the everyday experiences of Ancient Merv's inhabitants, I will undertake the digital excavation of the Islamic city of Merv Sultan Kala to examine three specific research themes: The extent to which an Archaeological Rhythmanalysis is effective in identifying this experience. Whether rhythmanalysis can be used to identify socio-political tensions encapsulated in the urbanscape. Explore methodologies for analysing and expressing urbanscapes as nuanced humanistic phenomena.

I assert that if archaeologists know how to uncover them, the experiences of humans are waiting to be found: that this Assemblage of the Mind is encapsulated by the humanity of a city: a dialectical materiality enmeshing physical and non-physical attributes. Archaeological Rhythmanalysis, inspired by the work of Henri Lefebvre (1985, 1992), and Kevin Lynch (1962), has the capacity, the theoretical and methodological foundation, the intellectual flexibility, and the inter-disciplinary scope to begin the examination of this experiential materiality. The concept of urbanscapes as emic phenomena will be refined and strengthened by seeking out, engaging with and using aggregated experience to better understand the lives of the city's inhabitants and the dynamics that formed the urbanscape.

Previous archaeological and heritage studies use of rhythmanalysis, as an analytical tool, do not meet Lefebvre's stipulation that a Rhythmanalysis should be a reflexive intellectual, multidisciplinary and empathic method for engaging with the subject matter. However, other than describing an immersive, yet separate analytical positioning Lefebvre does not provide a methodology. Fundamental to this research, ArcGIS will be used reflexively, as a digital trowel, to actualise the precepts, and fulfil the criteria of a Lefebvrian Rhythmanalysis, strengthen the actualised theory of the mind-object articulation, develop further the theorised practice of 'digital excavation', and create a methodised theory, to produce an innovative research approach that will use movement through an urbanscape to examine boundaries (emotional, physical, conceptual and social) as a gateway into understanding the everyday experience of people.


  • BA Hons Archaeology and History, Saint David's University College, Wales, 1991
  • PG Dip Property Development and Archaeology, University of Bournemouth, 1993
  • MA Archaeology and Heritage of Asia, UCL, 2017
Conference papers

'Archaeology, Money, and Politics: Six Months at Mes Aynak.' Hellenistic and Central Asian Research Network 2016.

'Rhythmanalysis: The romantic lie, of the sensual man in the street.' Central Asian Seminar Group 2017.