Wednesday, 12. June 2019, 9:30 - 18:00

Documenting Material Culture

Study Day organised by Bettina Bader (OREA, FWF-Start-Project ‘Beyond Politics’)

Recording material culture is at the core of archaeological work, whether the material is pottery, stone tools, textiles, jewellery, or a myriad of other object classes. The main aim of this study day is to look behind our interpretational frameworks concerning the documentation of material culture and how our methods influence the information we hope to gain (and vice versa).
The wide variety of research subjects in the Institute of Oriental and European Archaeology makes it an ideal place to look beyond the border of one’s own discipline. This study day provides an opportunity to learn more about why and how objects in the widest sense are recorded in different archaeological fields, since these methods and motivations can differ widely (even for the same object type) in world archaeology. Participants are encouraged to engage in comparative discussion of recording methods, both traditional and digital, of objects and the intrinsic motivation behind our methodological choices.
Additionally, we will look behind these methodologies and focus also on the types of questions we ask of material culture and the answers we expect to gain. In working with material culture the researcher faces various restrictions that make it impossible to give attention to all finds equally. In light of these limitations, speakers and participants are invited to highlight strategies for formulating research questions and choosing objects to be analysed, since these choices are crucial for obtaining reliable data against which our interpretational frameworks can be tested.
The ultimate goal of this study day is to raise awareness to the importance of methods of documentation of material culture, as these methods are often overlooked in publications. The stories that these objects can tell are the ultimate building blocks for our interpretation of past societies.