Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory

BOOKS | 2011

26 January 2013

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

Carl Knappett

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

City: Oxford/New York

Year: 2011

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Description: Hardback, 251 p., 50 b/w figures, 24x16 cm


Think of a souvenir from a foreign trip, or an heirloom passed down the generations–objects allow us to think and act beyond the proximate, across both space and time. Through investigating this uniquely human capacity, this innovative volume argues that academic opinion about material objects tends to only consider individual artefacts, as in souvenirs and heirlooms, when what is truly distinctive in material culture is the capacity of objects to work together in “networks.” Objects rarely stand independently from each other, but are rather interconnected in whole constellations with almost endless associations. It is these associations which we make that instil objects with their power, enabling them to evoke distant times and places for us. However, the immense benefits of object networks are countered by 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.”

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 both the benefits such networks create for human interaction across scales, and the challenges faced by ancient societies in balancing these benefits against their costs.


List of Figures [viii]

Part I. Interaction, Materiality, and Scale

1. Introduction [3]

2. Interaction, Space, and Scale [15]

3. Networks Between Discipline [37]

Part II. Networks in Practice: From Micro to Macro

4. Micro-Networks: Proximate Interactions [61]

5. Meso-Networks: Communities of Practice [98]

6. Macro-Networks: Regional Interaction [124]

Part III. Why Networks?  Objects, Things, and Time

7. Networks of Objects [149]

8. Meshworks of Things [172]

9. Temporalities and Biographical Care [191]

Epilogue: Future Challenges [214]

References [219]

Index [249]


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