Session: #421

Theme & Session Format

5. Theories and methods in archaeology: interactions between disciplines
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Skin, Leather, and Hide: scientific methods and novel approaches to the study of archaeological leather
Undoubtedly, archaeological leather as a material for research has high informational potential. It can provide insights into the ways in which ancient communities lived and, how their traditions developed in connection with their physicality, community and the surrounding environment. Resulting changes in social development, hunting practices, animal husbandry, belief systems and fashion were reflected in the types of animal skins used, skin processing and leathercraft. Archaeological skin products are rare finds and their preservation usually depends on very particular and often unpredictable factors. Moreover, the methods for scientific research of archaeological skin are dependent on the archaeological context in which these objects were found. To study leather we have access to an array of techniques including proteomic analysis, optical light microscopy, spectral imaging technologies, X-ray techniques, DNA analysis etc. Therefore, every time a new project begins one is faced with the choice of the most appropriate method to provide the most useful data,  at a reasonable cost, and within an achievable time-frame. Which research methods are most applicable in a given situation, what data can we expect to receive and how can we build effective analytics based on the data obtained by traditional and/or scientific methods?  We invite all leather researchers to participate in an active and productive discussion in this relatively understudied research area.
archaeological leather, aDNA, x-ray techniques, proteomics, spectral imaging technologies, optical light microscopy
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
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Main organiser:
Varvara Busova (Russia) 1
Samantha Brown (Germany) 2
1. Institute for the History of Material Culture RAS
2. Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History