Colouring the past: The Significance of Colour in Archaeological Research

Overview

Colour shapes our world in profound, if sometimes subtle ways. It helps us to classify, form opinions, and make aesthetic and emotional judgements. Colour operates in every culture as a symbol, a metaphor, and as part of an aesthetic system. Yet archaeologists have traditionally subordinated the study of colour to the form and material value of the objects they find and thereby overlook its impact on conceptual systems throughout human history.

This book explores the means by ...

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Overview

Colour shapes our world in profound, if sometimes subtle ways. It helps us to classify, form opinions, and make aesthetic and emotional judgements. Colour operates in every culture as a symbol, a metaphor, and as part of an aesthetic system. Yet archaeologists have traditionally subordinated the study of colour to the form and material value of the objects they find and thereby overlook its impact on conceptual systems throughout human history.

This book explores the means by which colour-based cultural understandings are formed, and how they are used to sustain or alter social relations. From colour systems in the Mesolithic, to Aztec symbolism and the use of colour in Roman Pompeii, this book paints a new picture of the past. Through their close observation of monuments and material culture, authors uncover the subtle role colour has played in the construction of past social identities and the expression of ancient beliefs.

Author Biography: Andrew Jones is a Research Fellow of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research in Cambridge. Gavin MacGregor is Project Officer, Archaeological Research Division, Glasgow University.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Until recently archaeologists were remarkably insensitive to the importance of colour in ancient societies. This book changes the situation. It offers a series of provocative and persuasive studies which will surely influence a new generation of research. It will help to stimulate a more imaginative approach to fieldwork and richer interpretations of the past. All archaeologists should read it and learn from what it has to say." —Richard Bradley, Reading University
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859735428
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 7/1/2002
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Lexile: 1400L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Edited by Andrew Jones, Lecturer in Archaeology, University of Southampton and Gavin MacGregor, Project Officer, Archaeological Research Division, University of Glasgow

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Table of Contents

Preface
List of Illustrations
Notes on Contributors
Introduction: Wonderful Things - Colour Studies in Archaeology from Munsell to Materiality 1
1 Apotropaism and the Temporality of Colours: Colourful Mesolithic-Neolithic Seasons in the Danube Gorges 23
2 Colourful Prehistories: The Problem with the Berlin and Kay Colour Paradigm 45
3 White on Blonde: Quartz Pebbles and the Use of Quartz at Neolithic Monuments in the Isle of Man and Beyond 73
4 So Many Shades of Rock: Colour Symbolism and Irish Stone Axeheads 93
5 The Flashing Blade: Copper, Colour and Luminosity in North Italian Copper Age Society 109
6 Munselling the Mound: The Use of Soil Colour as Metaphor in British Bronze Age Funerary Ritual 127
7 Making Monuments Out of Mountains: The Role of Colour and Texture in the Constitution of Meaning and Identity at Recumbent Stone Circles 141
8 A Biography of Colour: Colour, Material Histories and Personhood in the Early Bronze Age of Britain and Ireland 159
9 The Composition, Function and Significance of the Mineral Paints from the Kurgan Burial Mounds of the South Urals and North Kazakhstan 175
10 Colour and Light in a Pompeian House: Modern Impressions or Ancient Perceptions 195
11 The Colours of Light: Materiality and Chromatic Cultures of the Americas 209
12 Epilogue: Colour and Materiality in Prehistoric Society 227
Index 243
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