Saturday, December 23, 2017

Mad Skills, Meaning Nils (Kuijpers, 2017)

Kuijpers argues that archaeometric examination of early metal works have produced results that are often projected directly as raw data onto a social framework.  In doing so, much of the context is absent or a different picture is created altogether.

It's simplifying those things that require great skill and time at the forge but look easy in the mature hands of the craftsman.  Through the eyes and in the hands of the craftsmen were ancient works created; it's in this dimension where Kuijpers argues so much of our understanding depends.

"The Blacksmith",  Minneapolis Museum of Art, (Franz von Defregger)

"There are two distinct frameworks in which prehistoric technologies are studied: a material framework and a social framework."  [Kuijpers, 2013 proposed a third "psychophysical framework"]..This framework takes into account prehistoric skill, cognition, and the senses"
Kuijpers proposes a 'sensory update' to the chaîne opératoire in reconstructing the processes of metal production, limited to the smithyVandkilde, 2010, had suggested applying this approach to metal production, which had been applied with success by lithics researchers. 

This sensory update optimizes the operational chain by including those ques used by the smith: colors, smells, hardness, speed, malleability, plumes, etc.  From these ques a decision tree forms that illuminates the mental processes of the smith during the initial production using raw materials.  From this expanded approach, additional information is learned, such as the skill-level of EBA craftsmen, which is highly variable and more often 'motley' in Kuijper's view.

But most important a decision tree emerges based on the way different materials were worked in order to achieve a desired endstate.  In this way, much more can be reverse engineered out of an object, particularly it's use need if the artisan was skilled.  About 10-15 pages.  See also: Kuijpers, 2018

A Sensory Update to the Chaîne Opératoire in Order to Study Skill: Perceptive Categories for Copper-Compositions in Archaeometallurgy
Kuijpers, M.H.G. J Archaeol Method Theory (2017).

This paper introduces the methodology of perceptive categories through which an empirical analysis of skill is achievable, taking European Bronze Age metalworking as a case study. Based on scientific data provided by the material sciences, in this case compositional and metallographic analyses of Late Copper Age and Early Bronze Age axes, the thresholds to categorise and interpret these data, and organise them in a chaîne opératoire, are centred on the human senses—and thus on metalworking as a craft. This is a pragmatic approach that appreciates scientific measurements of metal objects as essential empirical evidence whilst recognising that a considerable share of these archaeometric data are inapt or too detailed for an understanding of skill. This empirical approach towards skill is relevant to our knowledge of the role of crafts and materials in the past. After all, skill is a fundamental asset for the production of material culture, and a distinct human-material relationship characterised by an intimate form of material engagement.

1 comment:

  1. I suspect no one commented on this one because the writing was so bad. When your sentence included four commas and an em dash, it's time to rewrite. Alas, the author has caught the academic gobbledygook disease.