chapter  10
22 Pages

Materials Make People: How Material Properties and Technologies Contribute to Figurine Shapes in Early Iron Age Central Europe


Representing the human body on mundane as well as ritual objects made of different materials and in different technologies becomes increasingly popular during the early Iron Age in Central Europe. Figurines are amongst the objects specifically produced to represent the human form; they vary in size, even if they are most commonly adjusted to handling by and holding in a human hand. Figurines are formed of clay, cast in bronze or lead or carved in bone; some are also further decorated in a range of different techniques. On the one hand, the shape of the figurines follows the conventions of depicting humans in the early Iron Age in general; on the other, style and shape of the human form are additionally influenced by the process of their making. The material properties, affordances and practicalities of production that add details to the outcome are of interest in this chapter, which aims to survey early Iron Age figurines in Central Europe using the chaîne opératoire approach. Thinking through the steps of production, use and deposition of the figurines, the chapter investigates the impact of human-material-object relations to understand why Hallstatt figurines take the form they take.