Archaeologies of technology
Journal - Cambridge Journal of Economics
Archaeologists make use of several different ontologies to researchand develop theories about ancient technology. After brieflysketching out central features of mainstream (materialist) technovisions,this essay concentrates on recent ontological trends emphasizingthe ‘mutual becoming’ of people and products. Symbolicand structuralist orientations enable archaeologists to ‘see’something of the social values and cognitive structures shapingtechnological traditions in the deep past. As the question ofgender has become an explicit topic of interest, archaeologistsare able, at long last, to theorise about ancient techniciansas thinking and feeling women and men. To appreciate ancienttechnology ‘as if people mattered’, I outline myown preferred ontology—grounded in phenomenology and agencytheory. It argues that the ancient technician's body was a mindful,sensual, socially constituted and gendered being making senseof the world—and themself—by working through it.Chaîne opératoire data on technical gestures andrelated strategic choices of artifact manufacture, use, andrepair provide the necessary empirical and interpretive linkbetween the making of personhood and the making and use of productswithin the (ancient) body politic.
|Keywords : ||Archaeology • Technology • Gender • Embodied agency • Chaîne opératoire|