Archaeological Approaches to Technology

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The study of ancient technologies, that is, the ways in which objects and materials were made and used can reveal insights into economic, social, political, and ritual realms of the past. This book summarizes the current state of ancient technology studies by emphasizing methodologies, some major technologies, and the questions and issues that drive archaeologists in their consideration of these technologies, This book is designed for upper-division undergraduate and graduate level archaeology students taking courses in ancient technologies, archaeological craft production, material culture, the history of technology, archaeometry, and field methods. This text can also serve as a general introduction and a reference for archaeologists, material culture specialists in socio-cultural disciplines, and engineers/scientists interested in the backgrounds and histories of their disciplines.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"As an introduction to archaeological studies of technology in an era of over-specialization, Millers pan-technology book is a welcome addition to our arsenal of teaching tools. By describing different technologies, she provides a worthy sequel to Otis T. Masons The Origins of Invention. Millers book is well written, informative, and speaks to contemporary issues in the study of technology." —Michael Brian Schiffer, University of Arizona

"Writing in a cogent and engaging style, Miller leads us step-by-step through the intricacies of a breathtaking array of technologies and brilliantly captures how the material 'things' people make and use are embedded in their social lives." —Rita P. Wright, New York University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781598744743
  • Publisher: Left Coast Press
  • Publication date: 7/31/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Healther M.-L. Miller is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto. Her academic interests include the social and political structure of state-level societies, particularly in South Asia, as well as the archaeological study of technology and material culture.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures ix

Dedication xiii

Preface and Acknowledgements xv

1 Introduction: Archaeological Approaches to Technology 1

Terminology 3

Archaeology and Technology Studies 7

Overview of Volume 9

2 Methodology: Archaeological Approaches to the Study of Technology 13

Archaeological Field Techniques: Discovery/Recovery 16

Survey 17

Excavation 19

The Examination of Archaeological Remains 21

Simple Visual Examination and Measurement 22

Complex Examination of Physical Structure and Composition 25

Ordering and Analyzing Data 27

Reconstructing Production Processes; Chaîne Opératoire 29

Analogy and Sociocultural Interpretation 30

Experimental Archaeology 34

Ethnography, Ethnoarchaeology, and Historical Accounts 36

3 Extractive-Reductive Crafts 41

Classification of Crafts 43

Stone/Lithics 46

Collection and Preliminary Processing 47

Shaping and Finishing Methods 54

Knapping 54

Cutting (Sawing, Drilling, Groove-and-Snapping) 57

Pulverizing (Pecking) 58

Abrading (Grinding, Smoothing, Polishing, Drilling) 59

Production Stages 59

Organization of Production; Consumption 61

Fibers: Cordage, Basketry, Textiles 65

Collection and Preliminary Processing of Fibers 68

Production of Strands and Cordage 72

Fabric Production 75

Ornamentation and Joining 81

Organization of Production and Scheduling Demands 85

Wood, Bone, and Other Sculpted Organics (Antler, Horn, Ivory, Shell) 89

Collection and Preliminary Processing 91

Shaping and Finishing Methods 94

Organization of Production; Use and Reuse of Hard Organic Objects 98

4 Transformative Crafts 101

Fired Clay 103

Collection and Preliminary Processing;Formation of the Clay Body 109

Shaping Methods 113

Drying and Surface Treatments 118

Firing 121

Post-Firing Surface Treatments and Second Firings 128

Vitreous Silicates: Glazes, Faiences and Glass 128

Collection and Preliminary Processing 130

Creating the Vitreous Silicate Mixtures; Fritting; Melting of Glass (Glass Making) 135

Shaping of Faience and Glass Objects 138

Application of Glazes to Faience and Other Materials 141

Firing of Faience and Glazed Objects; Annealing of Glass 143

Post-Firing Surface Treatments 144

Metals: Copper and Iron 144

Collection, Including Mining 147

Processing of Ores and Native Copper; Fuel and Fluxes 150

Smelting 152

Refining and Alloying 156

Shaping and Finishing Methods: Casting and Fabrication (Including Forging) 159

Casting 159

Fabrication 162

5 Thematic Studies in Technology 167

Technological Systems; Reed Boat Production and Use 168

Reconstructing Reed Boats and Exchange Networks in the Arabian Sea 169

Reconstructing Reed and Plank Boats and Exchange Networks in Coastal Southern California 173

Innovation and the Organization of Labor 180

The Case of the Grain Harvesting Machine 181

Divisions of Labor, Women's Roles, Specialization, and Mass Production of Pottery 185

Technological Style 191

Style and Technological Style 191

Technological Traditions: Metal and Bone Working in North America 195

6 Thematic Studies in Technology (Continued) 203

Value, Status, and Social Relations: The Role of New Artificial Materials in the Indus Valley Tradition 203

Uses of Artificial Materials 204

Status Differentiation and the Development of Vitreous Materials 206

Determining Relative Value 212

Social Relations and the Relative Value of Indus Talc-Faience Materials 217

Artificial Materials and Cultural Value Systems 225

Technologies of Religious Ritual in the American Southwest 226

Religious Mural Construction, Use, and Discard 228

Archaeological Identification of Religious Ritual 232

7 The Analysis of Multiple Technologies 237

Cross-Craft Perspectives 237

Technological Style and Cross-Craft Interactions 239

Bibliography 247

Index 283

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