Session: #416

Theme & Session Format

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

Title & Content

Visible to the eye? Transmission of ideas through everyday visual culture
The material and the visual are combined in the archaeological record. Design and style of artefacts, but also different technological choices (e.g. materials, tools, and methods) participate actively in the production, reproduction and transformation of sociocultural meanings and values. These aspects become more pronounced when we consider long-term trends and developments.

The study of visual culture is closely related to the study of art objects and images, but we seek to expand the discussion on portable material culture that is not necessarily perceived as ‘art’. Decorated everyday items, dress accessories, and weapons can be named as examples of such objects. These items were often locally produced and can be seen as indicators of everyday visual culture. We would like to discuss the changes in the social, cultural and religious environments that affect design, style and iconography of portable material culture. We are interested in the dynamics of transformation, whether the changes took place gradually or rather abruptly and what was the scale of the changes in the visual culture (e.g. restricted to certain artefact types or used as a cross-reference between different artefact categories).

We welcome contributions that examine these topics and we would be particularly interested in papers that focus on a long-term perspective. This view helps to see a bigger picture, which is necessary for more balanced narratives about specific ideas (e.g. the spread of Christianity). The aim of this session is to bring together a wide range of case studies across all periods and places in Europe that enables insights into how the concept of visual culture can be expanded and explored in archaeology.
visual culture, portable material culture, transmission of ideas, long-term perspective
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
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Main organiser:
Tuuli Kurisoo (Estonia) 1
Annika Sirkin (Germany) 2
1. Tallinn University
2. Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology (ZBSA)