Archaeology, History, and Science: Integrating approaches to ancient materials

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Using a combination of historical, archaeological, and scientific data is not an uncommon research practice. Rarely found, however, is a more overt critical consideration of how these sources of information relate to each other, or explicit attempts at developing successful strategies for interdisciplinary work. The authors in this volume provide such critical perspectives, examining materials from a wide range of cultures and time periods to demonstrate the added value of combining in their research seemingly incompatible or even contradictory sources. Case studies include explorations of the symbolism of flint knives in ancient Egypt, the meaning of cuneiform glass texts, medieval metallurgical traditions, and urban archaeology at industrial sites. This volume is noteworthy, as it offers novel contributions to specific topics, as well as fundamental reflections on the problems and potentials of the interdisciplinary study of the human past.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Such a critical review of each avenue of information makes this book unique and an important contribution to the field of archaeological science. Summing up: Recommended." —L.D. Frame, CHOICE

"In the past few decades, recent trends in archaeology have included renewed emphases on interdisciplinary research. The rapid and continued growth of archaeological science (or archaeometry) also has provided numerous new avenues for interdisciplinary collaboration. One of the common issues discussed within most papers were challenges associated with integrating the three main forms of data utilized in this book, especially historic written sources. The editors and authors do a nice job of…presenting successful cases of integration of these types of data. This book would make an excellent introductory text for middle- and upper-level undergraduate students, graduate students, and a useful resource for researchers." —Thomas R. Fenn, Journal of Anthropological Research

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781598743401
  • Publisher: Left Coast Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2009
  • Series: Univ Col London Inst Arch Pub Series
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 218
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Marcos Martinón-Torres is Lecturer in Archaeological Science and Material Culture at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. With degrees in history, archaeology and archaeological science, he has a special interest in the integration of different research approaches to past materials and technologies, and the way in which these inform about human theories, perceptions and actions. Most of his research has focused on medieval and post-medieval metallurgy and crucible technology, with a strong emphasis on the study of alchemical and metallurgical laboratories, and the processing of noble metals. He is also interested in the transfer of material culture and ideas between indigenous peoples and Europeans in colonial contexts. He currently works in projects in Europe, America and China.Thilo Rehren is Professor for Archaeological Materials and Technologies at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. His academic background includes a first degree and PhD in mineralogy and petrology, and a habilitation in archaeometallurgy. He is particularly interested in reconstructing high-temperature production processes for metals and glass, and the interplay between natural, system-driven aspects of technology and the role of human choice and activity in mastering past technologies. He has worked extensively on a range of metals, specifically lead and silver smelting, silver refining, crucible technology in general, Islamic crucible steel production, Roman zinc and Roman and medieval brass making, and early platinum, tin and tungsten production. More recently, he has jointly with Edgar Pusch identified the first firm evidence for Egyptian glass making, at Qantir-Pi-Ramesse in the Nile Delta. He is editor of the Journal of Archaeological Science, and currently serves as the president of the Society for Archaeological Sciences.

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Table of Contents

Illustrations 7

Preface 13

1 Why Should Archaeologists Take History and Science Seriously? Marcos Martinon-Torres Martinon-Torres, Marcos 15

2 Licking Knives and Stone Snakes: The Ideology of Flint Knives in Ancient Egypt Carolyn Graves-Brown Graves-Brown, Carolyn 37

3 Cuneiform Glass Texts: A Question of Meaning Andrew J. Shortland Shortland, Andrew J. 61

4 Pliny on Roman Glassmaking Ian C. Freestone Freestone, Ian C. 77

5 Ptolemaic and Roman Memphis as a Production Centre Sally-Ann Ashton Ashton, Sally-Ann 101

6 Theophilus and the Use of Beech Ash as a Glassmaking Alkali Caroline M. Jackson Jackson, Caroline M. James W. Smedley Smedley, James W. 117

7 Medieval Precious Metal Refining: Archaeology and Contemporary Texts Compared Justine Bayley Bayley, Justine 131

8 Lustre Recipes for Hispano-Moresque Ceramic Decoration in Muel (Aragon, Spain), or 'How Much a Little Copper Weighs' Josefina Perez-Arantegui Perez-Arantegui, Josefina Carlos Pardos Pardos, Carlos 151

9 Naturam ars imitata: European Brassmaking between Craft and Science Thilo Rehren Rehren, Thilo Marcos Martinon-Torres Martinon-Torres, Marcos 167

10 Archives and Urban Archaeology: The Fairbank Surveyors' Papers and Work on Brownfield Sites in Sheffield Anna Badcock Badcock, Anna David Crossley Crossley, David 189

About the Authors 209

Index 213

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