Hidden Agendas: Social Aspects of Raw Material Choices

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Hidden Agendas: Social Aspects of Raw Material Choices


S6-1, Raw and Worked Osseous Materials, oral



Hard osseous materials have many special characteristics that made them ideal in the production of a variety of tools and ornaments. In particular, bone tools are especially good for use on skins, sewing and textiles, bark processing and even ceramics. However, efficiency is not the only reason a skeletal element from a particular animal species might have been chosen to manufacture such objects. The first crucial step in the chaîne d’operatoire, raw material selection, was just as much dependent on traditions of technical style particular to a certain local or region. Knowledge of what makes on skeletal element a good raw material for a particular tool or ornament would have been passed down between generations while differences in choice of raw material also allowed people to create separate social identities from each other. The Bronze Age was a time of increasing social complexity and hierarchical society. Various social narratives were reflected in regional choices of raw material to make particular kinds of tools. In addition, choice of raw materials could also be another way of demonstrating wealth and status. Finally, the myths associated with animals and the attributes ascribed to them is reflected in the amulets and ritual deposits of special worked materials, found in graves and settlement materials. Never-the-less, identifying raw material in a heavily worked or fragmented artefact, while crucial, is by no means always a simple or straightforward process. The paper will discuss what can be learned from identification of the raw material and problems connected to that identification.




Central European University, Budapest, Medieval Studies Department, Nádor u. 9, H-1051 Budapest, choyke@ceu.hu


Choyke, Alice


August 2010

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Choyke, Alice. "Hidden Agendas: Social Aspects of Raw Material Choices ," in BoneCommons, Item #1039, http://alexandriaarchive.org/bonecommons/items/show/1039 (accessed August 7, 2020).


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File: S6-1_24-08_CHOYKE.ppt