SESSIONS ON THE 15TH NORDIC BRONZE AGE SYMPOSIUM
Bronze Age Craft, Technique and Technology
Eva Andersson Strand (University of Copenhagen)
Andreas Nilsson (Lund University)
Andreas Svensson (Lund University)
Studies of technique and technology in a Bronze Age context are essential for the understanding of Bronze Age Society. A structured community in which the craftsmen can meet and exchange ideas is a requirement for a technique to be developed. Additionally, techniques continuously improve when the craftsman obtains more experience in the craft, impressions from other craftsmen, knowledge of new materials and access to new tools. This session will explore the different crafts within the Bronze Age context with specific focus on technique and technology and the change therein and we welcome papers focusing on technique and technology from an empirical point of view. This focus aims at facilitating discussions concerning the interaction between different crafts and their respective technological paradigms and how this can be integrated into a more general interpretation of Bronze Age societies.
The session aims to include a wide spectrum of Craft, Technique and Technology within a Bronze Age context, such as:
- Technique and technology in bronze craft
- Technique and technology in wood craft
- Technique and technology in ceramic craft
- Technique and technology in textile craft
- Technique and technology in lithic craft
- The tools for Technique and technology
- The socio-economic contexts for technique and technology
Bronze Age Hunting
Joakim Wehlin (Uppsala University)
Magnus Ljunge (Stockholm University)
The south Scandinavian Bronze Age has traditionally been associated with an agricultural society, and in recent years also been related to vast maritime networks. This has led to a notion of a farming economy as the basis for trade and travel, as well as for social structures and identities. Yet, ethnographic evidence shows that farming and pastoralist communities are often involved in complex engagements with woodlands and wildlife and that hunting practices play a key role in ritual life as well as the negotiation and creation of identities.
Hunting practices are present in the south Scandinavian archaeological re-cord dated to the Bronze Age in the form of rock art scenes, animal bones, hunting pits and material culture. This has not led, however, to any extensive efforts to study the significance of hunting or engagements with undomesticated landscapes in south Scandinavian Bronze Age societies. In this session we want to explore hunting in terms of ritual, social, and economic meanings and we encourage papers dealing with theories and/or materials connected to farmers as hunters.
Burials, Individuals and Society
Serena Sabatini (University of Gothenburg)
The study of burials is central to archaeology in many ways. Lately great attention has been paid to the investigation of single individuals’ life histories, achieving incredible results. With an eye to recent advances in isotope tracing and ancient DNA analyses, the participants of the session are asked to consider upon new basis the archaeological record and any resulting reflections on the role of burials for Bronze Age societies.
Each burial is likely to have been an event that individuals and/or groups of various sizes attended, following norms, rituals, and customs, but also from time to time possibly altering such norms or introducing new ones. One may consider that during the funerary rituals, the deceased becomes tightly enmeshed with his or her burial. In this process, the complex plurality of each burial with all its consisting elements ends up conveying messages to the world of the living. Burial contexts can be considered as communicating adherence or contrast to dominating values and norms, for instance; they could also signal forms of social, cultural, political or economic distinction characterizing the deceased himself or perhaps his or her kin. Other possible approaches could be also explored and are welcome in the discussion. Additionally Northern European Bronze Age communities adopted different types of burial practices that at times show similarities with practices common in other European regions and at times appear locally rooted. Therefore, the transformative power of external influences should also not be underestimated.
There is a long tradition of burial practice studies; however, the recent manifold scientific advances invite a re-assessment of previous assumptions about the social, cultural and political significance of graves and grave monuments. The time is perhaps ripe for an investigation of burials with renewed attention to the relation between individuals and societies during the Bronze Age.
The papers in this session are asked to explore different types of funerary practices in Bronze Age Northern Europe, unfolding their complexity and examining the dynamics underlying their adoption, development and eventual decline. Considering burial contexts as multi-layered parts and/or whole configurations, papers are invited to adress the following, exploring in specific:
- Ritual and customs
- Funerary architectures
- Internal configurations of the tombs
- Grave goods assemblages
- Body treatments
- Dataset from isotopic and genetic analyses
Craft and the Material Dimensions of Cognition: a Posthumanist Approach
Maikel Kuijpers (Leiden University)
Katarina Botwid (Lund University)
Experiencing material realities helps to constitute cognition. This is a core idea held by diverse group of researchers who think beyond the human. From Pickering’s (1995) mangle of practice to Malafouris’ (2013) material engagement theory, posthumanist approaches that decentralize human agency come in many forms. In this session our aim is to explore the material dimensions of cognition following two challenging propositions: 1) we do not only live in a material world, we have material minds (Boivin 2008). 2) material is the mother of innovation (Kuijpers, 2018).
Craft in this regard should not be seen as a descriptive category, but as a heuristic device, like science and art. Skill, the embodiment of craft, creates knowledge from material interactions and constitutes an epistemology of its own. This is because craftspeople think with the tools and materials that they use, but they also think through their material. Materials are a rich ground of metaphors through which we understand ourselves and think about the world, because human thought processes are largely metaphorical. It follows that the main materials and technologies a society works with shapes not only socio-economic development, but also guides the way people think (Morris, 2015). Craft is a way of exploring and understanding the world, creating knowledge categories and metaphors that shape the world around us. This places materials and artefacts at the core of our cognitive systems, but it also forces us to consider how different materials create uniquely human ways of thinking.
In this session we welcome papers that move beyond the technical aspects of craft and push for an understanding of how particular material engagements may have shaped the world of the maker. Does a linear reductive technology like flint-knapping create a mind with a different structure than that of one working with malleable clay? And how do these differ from the Bronze Age mind that is the result of the affordances of bronze? In short, what is the role of materiality in cognition?
Kuijpers, M.H.G., 2018. An Archaeology of Skill: Metalworking Skill and Material Specialization in Early Bronze Central Europe, Routledge studies in archaeology. Routledge, Taylor and Francis group, London.
Malafouris, L., 2013. How Things Shape the Mind: A Theory of Material Engagement. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Morris, I., 2015. Foragers, farmers, and fossil fuels: how human values evolve. Princeton University Press, Princeton.
Pickering, A., 1995. The mangle of practice: time, agency, and science. Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago, Ill.
New Insights on the Nordic Norm
Samantha Reiter (The National Museum of Denmark)
Anna Tornberg (Lund University)
Broadly speaking, archaeologists examine change across the scale of human space and time. However, the advances and exactitudes of new scientific discoveries and the increasing command of typology and shifts in metal sources and metallographic practices have also changed the means by which those changes are measured. How have our definitions of what was Nordic/non-Nordic changed? In terms of archaeometry, were people in the Nordic Bronze Age generally healthy? What about long-distance migration(s)? If so much metal was imported to Scandinavia, can we really discuss ‘Nordic’ metalwork/ ornamentation in relation to other areas? Are these measures the same as they were a decade ago?
This session invites input from various branches of archaeological investigation as a means to openly discuss new changes in the standards by which we assess the Nordic Bronze Age, its persons, and its material culture. It welcomes papers from both the archaeological sciences and more traditional archaeological pathways which seek to address and/or present new criteria for what should and should not be “normal” within the Northern European Bronze Age.
Rock Art, Iconography and Bronze Age Lifeworlds: an Integrated Perspective
Christian Horn (University of Gothenburg)
Lene Melheim, (Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo)
Rock art research is currently undergoing a digital revolution that is quickly shifting the paradigms of rock art studies. New discoveries, documentation techniques, and theoretical perspectives have enabled refined interpretations of rock art imagery, panel formation, and temporality. Seemingly coherent scenes have been created diachronically in a renegotiation of motifs and symbols, through later additions and modifications. A decade ago, the shift of focus from an agrarian to a primary maritime frame of reference was formative for rock art studies. This shift related the making of rock art to important activities that Bronze Age groups in Scandinavia engaged in, such as sea-faring, trade, and warfare. A renewed interest in Bronze Age iconography and imagery in rock art and other media has demonstrated how animism, narrative, and myth may be valid frames for interpretation. Together, these scientific developments enhance the potential for a stronger integration between rock art studies and Bronze Age archaeology in a wider sense, something which needs to be further discussed and developed.
This session invites papers addressing:
• Comparative, methodological and theoretical approaches to rock art
• The interpretation of images and iconography
• Rock art as an integrated phenomenon in Scandinavian Bronze Age societies
Science and Bronze Age Archaeology
Lena Grandin (Arkeologerna, The Swedish History Museum) lena.grandinarkeologernacom
Malou Blank (University of Gothenburg)
Traditionally, various scientific methods have been applied in archaeology. Some of these are now routinely incorporated, while others are more novel to archaeology and are still developing. Consolidated methods such as radiocarbon dating are constantly refined and strengthened when combined with statistical applications. The far-reaching potential of science has been vividly discussed and debated over the years, not only from methodological perspectives, but perhaps even more regarding the balance and interaction between the disciplines.
Interaction, networks and trade routes have been discussed based on movements of material, as exemplified by combinations of trace element and lead isotope analyses in metal studies. But more often now, different scales of human mobility is also from followed using analyses of aDNA and strontium isotopes, and in combination with environmental investigations, contributes to a more complex picture of the Bronze Age society. However, the number of samples needed to justify the archaeological implications have been questioned, and the importance of access to relevant reference data in order to allow a plausible assessment of results have been emphasized.
This session invites papers with case studies that address for instance the above issues from a diversity of scientific methods integrated in archaeology. We also welcome papers with a more theoretical approach that reflects interdisciplinary collaboration.
The Economy and Role of Lithic Materials and Technologies in the LN and BA Societies
Nils Anfinset (University of Bergen)
Jan Apel (Stockholm University)
The societies in the LN and BA of Scandinavia witnessed dramatic changes, where lithic technologies reached their peak in LN/EBA, only to decline relatively steeply within a few hundred years – a tradition based on millennia of workmanship and development just faded out.
This session would like to focus on this long-term “event”, which of course has similarities with other technological shifts. What can we learn from past as well as more recent technological shifts, in order to understand these changes in the LN and BA societies? Was this shift reflected and if so, how? What economic role did this shift have, or are there more regional patterns in Scandinavia which point in other directions? We seek to frame these issues specifically by exploring the relation between material culture and resources leading to social and political constellations. What happens when resources and technologies change or are transformed and how is production of lithic artifacts organized from a social and spatial point of view.
This session therefore aims at major questions such as;
• Chronological and typological studies that may broaden our understanding of the lithic technology and raw materials
• Has the material turn in archaeology (and in other sciences) changed our perspectives on lithic material and their role in the LN-BA-PRIA societies?
• Technological shifts and their implication on economy and society
The Nordic Bronze Age Revised
Heide Wrobel Nörgaard (Århus University)
In recent years, famous older finds characteristic for the Nordic Bronze Age have gathered interest for interdisciplinary research, (i.e. the Egtved burial). Research today employs more and more scientific methods: even oldest finds in the back of museum storage rooms are being re-examined and re-analyzed in new ways, producing highly important and new data. It becomes more and more clear that we are aware of the additional information that can be retrieved from the treasures of the Nordic Bronze Age through thorough investigation.
In many cases, our only knowledge about prestigious and spectacular finds derives from studies which date from the same time the items in question were first discovered. For example, the Viksø helmets were the subject of major scientific investigation (including a dendrochronological examination of the related wooden artefacts) in 1944. By contrast, archaeological science has developed to such an extent that dating the helmets themselves might soon be possible. Some major breakthroughs have been made regarding these first analyses and publications. Many such artefacts have been re-examined and re-analyzed in recent years. The aim of this session is to gather presentations that concentrate on the re-examination of classical Nordic Bronze Age finds in order to gain new insight into this cultural group, its chronology, extension and position within the European Bronze Age.
Traces of Thoughts, Traces of Trowels
Per Nilsson (The County Museum of Östergötland)
The research history of the Nordic Bronze Age has been touched upon on a number of occasions during earlier Nordic Bronze Age seminars, although separate sessions or papers dealing explicitly with this subject have been rare. However, judging from the published seminar papers, it is clear that the long history of Bronze Age research, combined with a strong legacy from a number of early researchers, still affects how Bronze Age archaeology is conducted today. The material traces of archaeological thoughts can be found not only in the form of published papers and volumes but also as physical remains in the landscape: for example, excavated and reconstructed graves, exposed and painted rock art panels or earlier trenches found at excavation sites. In addition to this, objects in museums may also bear traces of prior examinations, including letters and numbers that reveal earlier systems of classification. Together with manuscripts, texts and letters found in the archives, all these traces constitute the material and ideological remains of almost two centuries of Bronze Age research. This session welcomes papers dealing with subjects related to the many different aspects of the history of Bronze Age research - from a local, national and Nordic perspective.
Travel and Exchange
Johan Ling (University of Gothenburg)
Kristian Kristiansen (University of Gothenburg)
The Bronze Age was the first long period in human history to witness the development of large-scale exchange in metals and other materials across Europe. The demand for tin-bronze required copper and tin, two metals smelted from ores that typically derived from different regions, often quite distant from each other. The importance of metal for the Scandinavian Bronze Age societies cannot be overemphasized and their flows selectively transformed local social institutions, spurring the exchange of other materials such as amber, glass beads, litchis, and textiles, as well as developing means and routes of transport. The magnitude of Bronze Age trade was quite extraordinary as seen in rates of metal consumption, especially keeping in mind that all metals were imported from far away. Regarding exchange and travel in the Nordic Bronze Age, research findings indicate that elite household investment in boats, crew and warriors played a critical role in the rise of social complexity and long-distance trade. Long-distance exchange has been a central topic for Bronze Age studies for almost 150 years. However, this field of research has recently undergone some huge advancement in terms of analyses and observations of different materials, but also in terms of new theories about social organization and social complexity connected to long-distance travels and exchange. This session aims at exploring the recent trends within this field of research with special attention to the Nordic Bronze Age; thus, it welcomes papers that deal with different materials, means of transport, analytical methods and social aspects that reveal both regional and interregional travels and trade in the Nordic Bronze Age.
Wetland Depositions and Rituals in Time and Space
Lise Frost (Moesgaard Museum)
Mette Løvschal (Aarhus University)
This session focuses on the spatial and temporal aspects of wetland depositions and rituals in the Bronze Age. Wetland depositions and rituals sometimes reveal repeated visits to the same zones or areas – occasionally with more than 100 years between each deposition. At the same time, these wetland landscapes often appear ‘unmarked’ by humans, and equally so, their boundaries seem difficult to point out. Thereby a series of interesting questions arise pertaining to the spatial and temporal dynamics of Bronze Age depositional and other ritual practices.
Within the last ten years, 14C dates have been sampled on an increasingly large scale and their systematic integration with Bayesian statistics represent promising new ways of approaching these questions from new perspectives and ways. Moreover, the fields of spatial cognition and landscape studies have paved the way for rethinking issues related to spatial perception and memory, place continuity and landscape affordances in the use of these landscapes. Together, this provides more than enough of a foundation for a session focusing on depositions and rituals in the landscape in time and space.
We welcome all papers that explore issues related to wetland depositions and rituals, for example, through case-based studies or studies with a strong methodological or theoretical focus. Potential sub-themes are:
• The Late Bronze Age-Early Iron Age transition
• Questions of place continuity – marking, memory or mere coincidence?
• Questions of scale – sites, zones or beyond?
• The interplay with landscape and landscape changes
• Spatial perception and memory
• Markers of depositional sites (natural or man-made)
• Special locations? (e.g., at crossroads)
• Depositions outside wetland areas