Session: #276

Theme & Session Format

6. Material culture studies and societies
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Crossed Approaches to Transitions in the Neolithic: Understanding Social Mechanisms Underlying Material Culture Transformation Using the Concept of Chaîne Opératoire
The processes underlying change in European Neolithic material cultures are the subject of long-lasting debates, revolving around questions on human group identities, mobility and interactions. In this framework, the sequences of production and use (i.e. the chaînes opératoires) of material goods can act as powerful proxies to grasp the anthropological conditions leading to these critical shifts, as they reveal habits transmitted over generations. Identifying raw material supply territories and processing, as well as the manufacturing processes and uses of the artefacts produced by a given human groups provides information on its sociological nature, as well as evidence on its spatio-temporal trajectories and interactions with other communities (e.g. shared supply territories, exchanges, technical borrowing, stylistic imitation…). A systemic perspective, combining data, appears however pivotal to untangle the social dynamics of the identified communities and eventually assess their role in complex transition phenomena.
The session proposes to discuss the social mechanisms leading to Neolithic material culture transformation, using the concept of chaîne opératoire. By focusing on material culture stability versus transformation in a technological perspective, we wish to investigate the diversity of economic and social patterns at the basis of changes in production and consumption of material goods: who are the groups engaged in material culture change? What kind of interactions can lead to transformation in material culture? As part of these interactions, what is transmitted? What is reinterpreted? What is rejected? Do the different technical spheres display the same rhythms and processes of change and how can these differences be interpreted? Our goal is ultimately to apprehend the different historical scenarios at the root of the turning points identified in the archaeological record.
The session welcomes research on all kinds of artefacts and analytical methods (petrography, technology, use-wear analyses, bioarchaeology...), with an emphasis on integrated approaches combining different types of data.
Neolithic, material culture transformation, transitions, integrated approaches, chaînes opératoires, social dynamics
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Main organiser:
Solène DENIS (Czech Republic) 1,2,3
Louise Gomart (France) 4
Peter Tóth (Czech Republic) 1
1. Masaryk University
2. PaTHs Unamur
3. UMR 7055
4. CNRS, UMR 8215