Techniques, senses and emotions: polishing in the Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean


An archaeological object: raw material, volume, form, but also texture, temperature, sensation. It is the intention of the craftsman that we tried to attend, by studying Bronze Age polished objects of the Eastern Mediterranean (Crete, Egypt, Near East; 3000-1000 BC). By applying an interdisciplinary approach that combines ethnography, archaeology and tribology (science of wear, friction and lubrication), we studied traditional stone polishing at Mahabalipuram (India, Tamil Nadu) and Tenos (Greece) and demonstrated that the technical action conveys senses and emotions and requires developed sensory abilities. Technical choices appeared related to the desired surface (smooth, matt, shiny etc.). The surface topography of archaeological and ethnographic samples was measured and polish characterised by a multi-scale analysis based on the method of continuous wavelets transform (CWT). Finally, we considered the sensorial perception of the polish by using an ‘‘haptic tribometer". Using this methodology we were able to show a variability of polished surfaces within different production centres within the study area. This variability reflects the intention of the technical action and a cultural perception of the surface. These results stimulated the introduction of new experiences in Museum exhibitions where visitors are invited to discover sensory properties of polished objects

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Techniques, senses and emotions: polishing in the Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean. Haris Procopiou, Roberto Vargiolu, Hassan Zahouani. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396499)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;