The session explores ideas of "craft", "craftsmanship" and "craftspeople" in the European Bronze Age. It considers relationships between people and materials, 'making' as social and technical practice and roles of craftspeople in society, examined through contrasting materials from varying contexts.
The European Bronze Age witnessed an unprecedented flowering of craft activity. Throughout the period there were developments in decorative motifs, techniques and skill with distinctive emphasis on the pleasing aesthetic through intricately elaborated objects made of a wide range of contrasting materials. These include metal, clay, bone, textiles, wood, bark, horn, antler, hide, amber, jet, stone, flint, reeds and faience, either alone or in combination. At a technical level too, this blossoming of craft activity encouraged innovation and exploration of the potentials of materials. This session explores the ideas of "craft", "craftsmanship" and "craftspeople" within the context of the European Bronze Age. Rather than focussing on the technological and typological trajectories of the period, it aims to understand the relationship between people and materials, 'making' as a social and technical practice, and the role of craftspeople in Bronze Age society. It asks not only what the significance of the finished object was, but how the practice of creating objects was important in the fostering of craft traditions. Papers will focus on a range of different materials, drawing on Bronze Age contexts from different parts of Europe, offering a perspective of the Bronze Age from the purview of craft and material and those who made it their role in society.