S12
Make-do and mend: the archaeologies of compromise?

Convenors:
Ben Jervis (University of Southampton)
Alison Kyle (University of Glasgow)
Location:
Wills G25
Start time:
19 December, 2010 at 14:00
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

This session considers the artefact, ecofact and building reuse and the use of alternative, sometimes inefficient, methods or materials in past manufacture and resource exploitation. Papers will bring together archaeometric analyses and the social interpretation of these findings.

Long abstract:

This session considers the artefact, ecofact and building reuse and the use of alternative, sometimes inefficient, methods or materials in past manufacture and resource exploitation. Papers should bring together the archaeometric analyses which identify these phenomena and the social interpretation of these findings. In their consideration of artefact variability, Schiffer and Skibo (1997) suggest that artefacts are a compromise between efficiency in manufacture and use. We will question this assertion: is the reuse of objects, and the use of inefficient materials, really a compromise or do they have more deep-rooted cultural implications? Further questions to be addressed include what does the active, physical engagement with objects, required during their repair, tell us about the value of the object in question - whether intrinsic or cultural. Does the lengthening of an objects biographical history through repair impart a cumulative cultural significance upon repaired, as opposed to non-repaired objects? If we accept that material culture had an active meaning, do instances of repair represent maintenance of the original cultural meaning of the object, or the creation of a new hybridised meaning? We invite papers dealing with the reuse or recycling of artefacts, either for their original or an alternative function, skeuomorphism, or evidence of adaptability to changes in context in the archaeological record. Papers should offer an interpretation of these observations, but also be grounded in the archaeometric analysis of objects, structures, faunal or environmental remains. References: Schiffer, M and Skibo, J, 1997, 'The Explanation of Artefact Variability', American Antiquity 62,1, 27-50.