chapter  1
12 Pages

Why Study Artifacts? An Interdisciplinary Approach

This book explores the intersections between anthropology, classical archaeology, and materials science. Its central premise is an anthropological one, that the study of material remains - pottery, building stones, textiles, etc. - reveals cultural information about the people who made and used them. If culture is defined as human behavior, "the learned body of tradition that ties a society together" (Thomas 1989: 128), then culture can encompass everything from eating habits to decorative art. In the context of technology, culture can mean the rituals associated with procuring raw clay or with smelting iron, or it may mean the organizational structure of a craft workshop according to social status and division of labor.