Recovering and re-discovering craft

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Many studies have shown that craft involves know-how, practice and problem solving that represents activities that can be recovered by study of various artifact assemblages and contexts within archaeological sites. The types of conclusions differ with nature of the research question. sample size and its variability, methods of study and organization of collecting in the field, as well as the results of areal study: ethnographic information, resource survey and landscape reconstruction. Questions generated through analysis of materials, processes and properties often generate questions that can only be answered by replicative experiments of all aspects of a chaine operatoire, only part of it or only those critical aspects about which questions remain. The integration of the laboratory/workshop results with the archaeological evidence, both objects and context, can lead to a re-discovery of craft. The conjectured details of materials composition and structure, sequence of processing, properties, performance or use essentially reverse engineer the typical way that modern materials research is conducted. This paper aims at developing a widening dialogue about craft know-how among materials scientists working in museums and artist-craftsmen. To learn about our history and the human condition is not just to analyze and preserve the objects and artifacts, but also to investigate and understand the knowledge and skills used to produce and use them-- essentially this is the preservation of intangible cultural heritage and culture history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)535-543
Number of pages9
JournalMaterials Research Society Symposium - Proceedings
StatePublished - 2002
EventMaterials Issues in Art and Archeology VI - Boston, MA, United States
Duration: Nov 26 2001Nov 30 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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