New Perspectives on the Archaeology of Technological Change

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

In the last 35 years, technology has been reclaimed as a worthy focus of study in anthropological archaeology. Yet despite a broad consensus that technology is deeply intertwined with social and cultural processes, archaeologists have developed widely varying approaches to the analysis of technological behavior. Archaeologists studying technology are often divided by geographical scope, theoretical approaches, and materials specialization. The proposed session seeks to highlight the variety of perspectives on one dimension of this multi-faceted topic: the study of technological change. Drawing on their particular areas of research, participants will develop and explore common themes in the study of technological change. The papers will address the following broad thematic questions: How is technological change addressed at different temporal and spatial scales? What methodologies do archaeologists use to analyze behavior from the level of individual decision making to macro-scale adoption patterns? What features of technologies, their practitioners, and their social contexts affect spatial and chronological patterns of adoption? Conversely, how does the study of technological adoption patterns modify our understanding about the social structure of a society? How does the spread of technology across significant social, cultural and geographic boundaries differ from the spread of technology within social groups?