Session: #263

Theme & Session Format

2. [Re]integration
Session format:
Discussion session (with formal abstracts)

Title & Content

Craft Specialization in Worked Hard Osseous Materials: Conversations on a Complex Conceptual Category in Archaeology
"Craft specialization" is an archaeological category used to define and identify degrees of socio-economic complexity. It is also one of archaeology’s most loosely employed terms due to the widespread assumption that specialization is self-evident, that the concept is understood in the same way and does not require clarification between different cultural contexts. Criteria for "specialised" craft activity are usually not made explicit, making comparative studies difficult. Binomial, often mutually exclusive, concepts are found in the archaeological literature that may or may not refer to the same thing or actually to different things: e.g. Craft specialization versus Non-specialized craft production; Independent craft specialization versus associated craft specialization (for objects produced in different media) and Full-time craft specialization versus Part-time specialized craft activity.
Some suggested criteria include: 1) Place and size of production units; 2) Procurement strategies for raw material; 3) Choice of raw material; 4) Special time of year for production; 5) Level of technical segmentation; 6) Level of know-how (expertise); 7) Homogeneity of transformation modes; 8) Volume and variety of productions; 9) Specialization of the tools used; 10) Scale of product distribution; 11) Workshop associations with products in other media.
Presenters will be asked to reflect on the various criteria, both objective and subjective, they use to define and identify craft specialization in their worked osseous assemblages. We aim at a diachronic and transdisciplinary session in order to assess different definitional practices, regardless of chronological period. Contributions from Archaeology, Ethnography, Cultural Anthropology, etc. are welcome. We invite researchers in worked osseous assemblages from any period to share how they identify the archaeological signature of craft specialization using examples from their own work. Papers should include direct commentary on definitions, parameters and even doubts about issues of craft specialization.
Craft Specialization, Osseous industry, Cultural interactions, Trade/barter networks, Organization of production
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
Session associated with SAfA:
Session associated with CAA:
Session associated with DGUF:
Session associated with other:


Main organiser:
Miriam Luciañez Triviño (Spain) 1
Noëlle Provenzano (France) 2
Alice Choyke (Hungary) 3
1. University of the Basque Country - UPV/EHU
2. CNRS, Université Paul Valéry-Montpellier III
3. Central European University