Science and Archaeology: An object-centred perspective

Author(s): Andrea Dolfini

Year: 2017


According to Kristian Kristiansen, archaeology is now undergoing a major paradigm-shifting phase akin to the ones that defined the discipline in the mid-1800s and mid-1900s. He dubbed it ‘the third science revolution’, for fast-developing scientific methods, chiefly A-DNA and stable isotope analyses, sit at the core of the current changes. Arguably, similar if less visible changes are occurring in material culture studies. These are fostered by the marrying of new theoretical approaches (e.g. materiality and symmetrical archaeology) with new, or newly expanded, analytical methods (e.g. metalwork wear analysis). The paper discusses the implications of recent material culture research for the future of our discipline, focusing in particular on the wear analysis of European Bronze Age metalwork. It is argued that this research method has opened up a new window into the middle life-cycle of prehistoric bronzes, which were previously mainly studied for their production technology or deposition practices. Case studies will be discussed based on the Newcastle-led ‘Bronze Age Combat’ project. These will show that the integration of meaningful, theoretically informed field experiments and the microscopic analysis of ancient and replica weapons are needed to reconstruct prehistoric combat as a socially contingent, embodied practice.

Cite this Record

Science and Archaeology: An object-centred perspective. Andrea Dolfini. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429291)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15276