S05
The evanescent milkman cometh: archaeologies of obscure complexities, actions, formation and transformation

Convenors:
Reuben Thorpe (University College London)
Discussant:
Dr Chris Cumberpatch
Location:
Wills G25
Start time:
18 December, 2010 at 14:00
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

This session will focus on theory and methods that aim to tease out social process and social/physical mechanics that lie behind issues of site formation, residuality, redeposition and transformation.

Long abstract:

The aim of this session will be to focus on a branch of archaeological theory and practice, emerging in the UK, that is focusing on understandings of social processes and wider social mechanics through a re-examination of site formation, assemblage formation, taphonomy, residuality, deposit and assemblage re-working, re-deposition and transformation. This is an area of study that, remarkably, over the last quarter of a century has had little sustained investment of time or joined-up thinking despite promising starts in the 1970s and 1980s (Adams 1987; Bradley & Fulford 1980; Brown 1985; Crummy & Terry 1979; Evans & Millett 1992; Fulford & Peacock 1984; Millett 1979; Moorhouse 1986; Orton 1975; Orton & Orton 1975; Schiffer 1972; Sullivan 1989). While much of this early research was successful in defining and problematising phenomena in archaeological sequences, which bore directly on the inference potential of deposits and structures, chronologies and type series, newer approaches are directed at addressing what defined instances of complex formation can tell us about everyday practices in the past, rather than the limitations of the evidence for dating purposes or complete faunal assembalges, and allow us to draw inferences about the social processes that lead to complex deposition, re-working, re-deposition, something that is simply not addressed in the majority of contemporary archaeological theory and practice.