An Archaeology of Interaction: Network Perspectives on Material Culture and Society

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OUP Oxford, Aug 25, 2011 - Social Science - 272 pages
Think of a souvenir from a foreign trip, or an heirloom passed down the generations - distinctive individual artefacts allow us to think and act beyond the proximate, across both space and time. While this makes anecdotal sense, what does scholarship have to say about the role of artefacts in human thought? Surprisingly, material culture research tends also to focus on individual artefacts. But objects rarely stand independently from one another they are interconnected in complex constellations. This innovative volume asserts that it is such 'networks of objects' that instill objects with their power, enabling them to evoke distant times and places for both individuals and communities. Using archaeological case studies from the Bronze Age of Greece throughout, Knappett develops a long-term, archaeological angle on the development of object networks in human societies. He explores the benefits such networks create for human interaction across scales, and the challenges faced by ancient societies in balancing these benefits against their costs. In objectifying and controlling artefacts in networks, human communities can lose track of the recalcitrant pull that artefacts exercise. Materials do not always do as they are asked. We never fully understand all their aspects. This we grasp in our everyday, unconscious working in the phenomenal world, but overlook in our network thinking. And this failure to attend to things and give them their due can lead to societal 'disorientation'.

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About the author (2011)


Professor Carl Knappett teaches in the Department of Art at the University of Toronto, where he is Walter Graham/ Homer Thompson Professor of Aegean Prehistory. His previous books include Thinking Through Material Culture: An Interdisciplinary Perspective, and Material Agency: Towards a Non-Anthropocentric Approach, the latter coedited with Lambros Malafouris. He conducts fieldwork at various Bronze Age sites across the Aegean, focussing recently on the Minoan town of Palaikastro in east Crete.

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