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Experimental archaeology and perishable material culture: using traditional museums and open air museums to investigate the missing majority.

Author(s): Linda Hurcombe

Year: 2016

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Summary

In living contexts the majority of material culture is formed from organic materials, but on most archaeological sites only the inorganic elements are preserved. The perishable material culture thus forms the 'missing majority'. The fragmentary records and fragmentary remains of perishable material culture stored in museums can offer new ways of understanding artefacts made from organic materials. A mosaic approach has been used to offer new interpretations of artefacts using original museum records, published accounts and drawings from the 1800s onwards for artefacts which have not survived, augmented by rare extant fragments of types of cordage, containers and fabrics from prehistory and informed by ethnographic data. The research has explored the use of crafted replicas and digital 3D prints to better understand and present the ancient museum objects, but it has also looked at the processes and contexts involved in manufacture and use. Experimental archaeology projects within ten open air museums have been undertaken as part of the Openarch European Union project. The results show how an integrated approach can benefit both the archaeological interpretations of rare perishable artefacts, and the public appreciation of perishable materials.


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Experimental archaeology and perishable material culture: using traditional museums and open air museums to investigate the missing majority.. Linda Hurcombe. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405334)


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Spatial Coverage

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

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America