Craft and People
Agents of Skilled Labour
1st – 2nd November 2012
Craft production and the products of craft have long been a main focus of archaeological research. From the admiration of achievement and the appreciation of skill in finished objects, focus has shifted to questions of how objects were made, and who it was that made them. Ancient technology has been investigated through the study of production sites, artefact studies, through archaeometry, and through experimental archaeology. The role of people and communities in craft production has been approached through analysis of texts and images, analogies from ethnoarchaeological studies and attempts using experimental archaeology. Beyond the object-based studies, craft production has had a role to play in many recent themes in archaeology and anthropology, such as social structures, gender roles, specialization, state formation, migration, identities, and more. However, academic approaches to craft are often far removed from the practical knowledge and embodied practice of craft and skill in ancient societies, and biases towards ‘head’ over ‘hands’ need to be critically evaluated and acknowledged in the study of craft production.
The aim of this conference is to explore ways in which we can approach craftspeople behind objects and find complexes in the archaeological record. How have craftspeople left marks on things, places, and times? What roles did they play within their communities, and can we trace their social status through the archaeological record? What methodologies are available to identify people behind material remains? How are craftspeople linked across geographical and temporal planes, how is knowledge and skill reproduced and transformed?
The following themes will underlie the different sessions of the conference:
Images of Craftspeople: Portraits and Self-Portraits
Object and Craft
Society and Craftspeople
The conference will be held at the British Museum.
Early registration (till 30th September 2012):
£50 (£35 for students)
£70 (£55 for students)