Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


23 January 2014

A moving story about exotica: objects’ long-distance production chains and associated identities at Tiryns, Greece

Ann Brysbaert & Melissa Vetters Opuscula 6 (2013): 175-210.


Studying materials through a chaîne opératoire approach is common practice in studying craft activities. Whilst unravelling a chain of production can be very rewarding, many issues still arise: can all the steps be captured even when no material evidence is present, i.e. how can we approach production chains in the case of inconsistently or partially preserved material in settlement contexts? How may the steps that we are able to observe be contextualized in order to inform us about interconnected activities? In our research project carried out at Tiryns, Greece, we map certain steps through the production and consumption journey of a series of objects and materials, some of which have been referred to as “exotica”. Our aim was to understand the life histories of those specific items, and with that, those of the people associated with them. In problematizing the etic category of exotica, this paper investigates patterns of movement that transcend the pure material aspect. By considering the technological and social networks that are the prerequisite for the movements of materials, whether during production, circulation or consumption, or all together, we can analyse the full value and meaning of these materials. We suggest that terms such as local and non-local need to be clearly defined and contextualized, and to be of explanatory value to the networks in which they are implicated.


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