This chapter begins with a description of the sensory turn in the disciplines of history and anthropology, which foregrounded the senses as both object of study and means of inquiry. It goes on to document how the senses have been stirring within archaeology. Manifestations of the latter opening include the increasing attention paid to the sensible qualities of archaeological objects (in place of focussing exclusively on their morphology), to tracing the sensori-social life of things, and to the archaeology of experience.

Sensory studies is an interdisciplinary field of inquiry where history, anthropology, and numerous other humanities and social science disciplines coalesce. It is predicated on a cultural approach to the study of the senses and a sensory approach to the study of culture. The senses thus figure as both object of study and means of inquiry within this emergent paradigm.

The term ‘sensory studies’ was coined in 2006 by the editors of The Senses and Society, who wrote in their introduction to the first issue of that journal:

The senses mediate the relationship between self and society [or environment], mind and body, idea and object. The senses are everywhere.

(Bull, et al., 2006, p.5)