material culture
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2022 ◽  
Julie De Groot

How did citizens in Bruges create a home? What did an ordinary domestic interior look like in the sixteenth century? And more importantly: how does one study the domestic culture of bygone times by analysing documents such as probate inventories? These questions seem straightforward, yet few endeavours are more challenging than reconstructing a sixteenth-century domestic reality from written sources. This book takes full advantage of the inventory and convincingly frames household objects in their original context of use. Meticulously connecting objects, people and domestic spaces, the book introduces the reader to the rich material world of Bruges citizens in the Renaissance, their sensory engagement, their religious practice, the role of women, and other social factors. By weaving insights from material culture studies with urban history, At Home in Renaissance Bruges offers an appealing and holistic mixture of in-depth socio-economic, cultural and material analysis. In its approach the book goes beyond heavy-handed theories and stereotypes about the exquisite taste of aristocratic elites, focusing instead on the domestic materiality of Bruges’ middling groups. Evocatively illustrated with contemporary paintings from Bruges and beyond, this monograph shows a nuanced picture of domestic materiality in a remarkable European city.

2022 ◽  
Bar Kribus

The Betä Isra'el (Ethiopian Jews) have a unique history and religious tradition, one of the most fascinating aspects of which are the mäloksocc, commonly referred to as monks in scholarly and popular literature. The mäloksocc served as the supreme religious leaders of the Betä Isra'el and were charged with educating and initiating Betä Isra'el priests. They lived in separate compounds and observed severe purity laws prohibiting physical contact with the laity. Thus, they are the only known example in medieval and modern Jewry of ascetic communities withdrawing from the secular world and devoting themselves fully to religious life. This book presents the results of the first comprehensive research ever conducted on the way of life and material culture of the ascetic religious communities of the Betä Isra'el. A major part of this research is an archaeological survey, during which these religious centres were located and documented in detail for the first time.

2022 ◽  
Vol 9 (1) ◽  
pp. 68-75
Mohammad Ainul Haque

While bringing into attention the creative skills of a local Idol maker, this paper aims at exploring Idol making in the light of the maker’s perception and simultaneously placing it within the broader social and cultural context of Bangladesh. It seeks to understand the meaning that idol-making carries to its creator, and the meaning of idol-making that is felt within the larger social context of Bangladesh. While doing so, this paper investigates the concept of art prevailing in contemporary Bangladeshi society and therefore, examines the creative dimensions of idol making from folkloristic and material culture perspectives. Along with bringing forth the unheard stories of a local Bangladeshi idol maker, this paper aims at dismantling the grand narratives of art that existed within Bengali society and therefore, provides an opportunity to reconceptualize the artistic dimension of local idol making in Bangladesh.

2022 ◽  

Research on pre-Columbian childhood refers to all those studies that consider the different evidence and expressions of children in Mesoamerica, prior to the Spanish invasion in the 16th century. Archaeology, understandably by its very focus, has been one of the most prolific disciplines that has approached this subject of study. Currently, archaeological research focuses on highlighting the different social experiences of the past (or multi-vocality) of social identities, such as gender and childhood, and its relationship with material culture. In addition, archaeologists recognize a modern stereotype that considers children as passive or dependent beings and therefore biases childhood research in the past. Consequently, it is necessary to critically evaluate the cultural specificity of past childhood since each culture has its own way of considering that stage of the life cycle. Another problem, in the archaeological study of childhood, is to consider that children are not socially important individuals. It has been said that their activities are not significant for the economy or the social realm of communities and societies of the past. From archaeology, there exists a general perception that children are virtually unrecognizable from the archaeological record because their behavior leaves few material traces, apart from child burials. It has been since feminist critiques within the discipline that the study of childhood became of vital importance in archaeology to understand the process of gender acquisition through enculturation. This process refers to the way children learn about their gender identity through the material world that surrounds them and the various rituals that prepare them to become persons. Thus, the intent of recent studies on childhood has been to call upon archaeologists to consider children as social actors capable of making meaningful decisions on their own behalf and that they make substantial contributions to their families and their communities. In this sense, studies on pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican cultures have focused at the most basic sense on identifying the presence of children in the archaeological record or ethnohistoric sources. Its aim has been to document the different social ages that make up childhood, the ritual importance of Mesoamerican children, funerary practices, and health conditions marked in children’s bones as well as the different material and identity expressions of childhood through art and its associated material culture.

2022 ◽  

This article discusses the architecture of Assyria and Babylonia, two kingdoms that were located in modern-day Iraq and surrounding parts of Syria, Turkey, and Iran. This region overlaps with Mesopotamia (an ancient Greek name for the region between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers). The rise to prominence around c. 1800 bce of the cities of Assur in northern Iraq and of Babylon in central Iraq is taken as the article’s starting point. The main focus is, however, on the later histories of Assyria (c. 900–612 bce) and Babylonia (c. 626–538 bce). Both kingdoms can be said to have reached an imperial scale during these periods (Assyria around 730 bce during the reign of King Tiglath-Pileser III, and Babylonia when its armies conquered Assyria in 612 bce). Both empires came to control large parts of western Asia and at times also Egypt. This chapter will, however, focus on Mesopotamia proper, what might be described as its architectural koine (a multiregional shared material culture). The conquest of Babylonia by the Achaemenid Persian armies in 538 bce is taken as the end date. Architecture is an integral part of society and cannot therefore be studied on its own. The discourse on Mesopotamian architecture is notably sparse and uneven (as becomes apparent in this article). The limited nature of the discourse can be explained in several ways. First, although Mesopotamian architects created some of the most renowned buildings of their times, those architects did not write down their ideas, nor did they claim authorship. Ancient textual sources, although abundantly preserved, provide limited information when it comes to architecture. The activity of architecture was instead based on learned practice. Second, the architecture of the region was predominantly constructed of mud bricks supplemented with wood. More-extensive use of stones was generally limited to monumental buildings. Over the centuries, these buildings have collapsed and come to be buried under their own, and later, debris. Generally, only the lowest parts of the ground floor walls have survived. Our knowledge of ancient architecture is therefore dependent on archaeological excavations that commenced in the middle of the 19th century. Third, from the time the first excavations in the region commenced, archaeologists have focused mostly on the big urban centers and their monumental palaces and temples. Archaeologists have become more interested in other types of buildings and settlements over time, but our knowledge remains limited and biased to certain regions and periods. These biases, unfortunately, continue to shape the discourse and limit what can be referenced. Although this chapter does not aim to be comprehensive, it does include a substantial selection of the works that have been published on the architecture of the region.

Aleksandr Diachenko ◽  
Iwona Sobkowiak-Tabaka

AbstractContributing to the issue of complex relationship between social and cultural evolution, this paper aims to analyze repetitive patterns, or cycles, in the development of material culture. Our analysis focuses on culture change associated with sociopolitical and economic stasis. The proposed toy model describes the cyclical character of the quantitative and qualitative composition of archaeological assemblages, which include hierarchically organized cultural traits. Cycles sequentially process the stages of unification, diversity, and return to unification. This complex dynamic behavior is caused by the ratio between cultural traits’ replication rate and the proportion of traits of the higher taxonomic order’s related unit. Our approach identifies a shift from conformist to anti-conformist transmission, corresponding with open and closed phases in cultural evolution in respect to the introduction of innovations. The model also describes the dependence of a probability for horizontal transmission upon orders of taxonomic hierarchy during open phases. The obtained results are indicative for gradual cultural evolution at the low orders of taxonomic hierarchy and punctuated evolution at its high orders. The similarity of the model outcomes to the patters of material culture change reflecting societal transformations enables discussions around the uncertainty of explanation in archaeology and anthropology.

2022 ◽  
Vol 2 ◽  
pp. 6
Arnaud Cazenave de la Roche ◽  
Fabrizio Ciacchella ◽  
Fabien Langenegger ◽  
Max Guérout ◽  
Marco Milanese ◽  

The Mortella wrecks are the remains of two navi, Genoese seagoing merchant ships, sunk in 1527 in the Bay of Saint-Florent (Upper-Corsica, France) during the Seventh Italian War. A programme of archaeological excavations and historical research has been held on one of them,  Mortella III, between 2010 and 2020. It has involved a multidisciplinary team around a European research project called ModernShip (Horizon 2020), whose objective is to shed light on Mediterranean shipbuilding during the Renaissance, a field still little known to this day. At the end of these 10 years, the aim of the present article is to conclude this research programme with the presentation of a scientific review that complements a recently published monograph on the Mortella III wreck. This study presents the latest results on the ship's architecture obtained during the excavation of the wreck in 2019, including a study of the wood of the framework. Finally, this article broadens our understanding of the nave presenting the results of a collaborative line of research on material culture with three studies in close connection with the ship architecture: artillery, anchors and ceramics.

2022 ◽  
Vol 9 ◽  
Huw S. Groucutt ◽  
W. Christopher Carleton ◽  
Katrin Fenech ◽  
Ritienne Gauci ◽  
Reuben Grima ◽  

The small size and relatively challenging environmental conditions of the semi-isolated Maltese archipelago mean that the area offers an important case study of societal change and human-environment interactions. Following an initial phase of Neolithic settlement, the “Temple Period” in Malta began ∼5.8 thousand years ago (ka), and came to a seemingly abrupt end ∼4.3 ka, and was followed by Bronze Age societies with radically different material culture. Various ideas concerning the reasons for the end of the Temple Period have been expressed. These range from climate change, to invasion, to social conflict resulting from the development of a powerful “priesthood.” Here, we explore the idea that the end of the Temple Period relates to the 4.2 ka event. The 4.2 ka event has been linked with several examples of significant societal change around the Mediterranean, such as the end of the Old Kingdom in Egypt, yet its character and relevance have been debated. The Maltese example offers a fascinating case study for understanding issues such as chronological uncertainty, disentangling cause and effect when several different processes are involved, and the role of abrupt environmental change in impacting human societies. Ultimately, it is suggested that the 4.2 ka event may have played a role in the end of the Temple Period, but that other factors seemingly played a large, and possibly predominant, role. As well as our chronological modelling indicating the decline of Temple Period society in the centuries before the 4.2 ka event, we highlight the possible significance of other factors such as a plague epidemic.

2022 ◽  
Vol 10 (1) ◽  
pp. 33-57
Mariano Bonialian

Abstract This essay analyzes one of the main elements of the economic relationship between China and colonial Latin America: the Chinese Silk Road. The road demonstrated a bipolarity of early globalization, and its impact across the Pacific enhanced the material culture of Hispanic American society from Mexico to Buenos Aires. The route of circulation was largely informal, due to prohibitions imposed by metropolitan Spain designed to guarantee the growth of European economic connections across the Atlantic Ocean. Quality variations and affordable prices made Chinese silks among the most valuable articles in Latin American markets before the nineteenth century, when British-Indian cotton emerged as the main textile of the global era.

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