Tracing Networks

Craft Traditions in the Ancient Mediterranean and Beyond

Translating art and craft: Human representations, identities and social relations in the Late Bronze and Iron Age of Central Europe

Katharina Rebay-Salisbury

The lyre player from Schirndorf, Germany

The study of human representations north of the Alps sheds light on aspects of Early Iron Age identities as well as investigates the links in which communities are connected to societies in the Mediterranean. Examining human representations on a range of object types, including bronze and pottery, provides insights into the mechanisms of transmission of knowledge, technology and beliefs. Rather than focusing on the narrative content of the image, this project utilizes details such as gestures and postures, dress and associated objects as keys to understanding how identity and new understandings of society are communicated.

Integrated into a network of contacts across Europe and the Mediterranean, individual and social identities in the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages of Central Europe are the focus of investigations. The aim of the study is to better understand prehistoric society by investigating how prehistoric people constructed and negotiated personal identities in the setting of their society, and how societies constructed difference between themselves and others. The particular objectives of the study are to examine

- how gender relations were constituted, maintained and practiced,
- how personal age contributed to the way individuals were perceived,
- how wealth and status came to be significant personal characteristics, and
- how different variables of identity were interconnected.

Further, the project contrasts and compares how these aspects of identity differ on a chronological and spatial level, thus investigating

- how aspects of identity changed at the transition from the Bronze to the Iron Age
- whether and how personal identity was constructed differently in different areas
- what impact the making of personal identity had on the construction of group identities, and
- whether and how group identity on a regional level was deliberately maintained and enforced to create difference to other contemporary groups.

The study is set in an area conventionally perceived as belonging to the "Hallstatt Culture", spread over parts of Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia.

Personal identities are comprised of a mosaic of elements, of different roles people play within societies, of which some might be termed gender, age, kinship, status, wealth, class, ethnicity or religion. To approach individual identity from a new and different angle, this study takes the human body as the focal point of investigation. The human body can be understood as a medium through which social relations, identities and status categories are negotiated. Bodily practices, such as the way people move through their environment, how material culture and materials are used, or how the body is treated after death can give us an insight into how Bronze and Iron Age people understood themselves and their world.

Mediterranean societies had an impact on Central Europe and contributed to social change through the transmission of technologies, ideas and what may be termed ‘standard cultural practices’. Contacts between the areas undoubtedly existed, but the form these contacts took, from transfer of ideas and goods to cultural imperialism and dependency, remains poorly understood. A network perspective can help to explore the nature of contacts and relationships.

The key methodologies applied in this project are (1) the study of human representations in art, directly addressing prehistoric ideas and ideals of identity. Human representations help to understand how people saw themselves and their immediate social surroundings, while narrative scenes inform about us which actions and practises were important enough to be captured permanently. (2) The study of human representations will be complimented by an in-depth comparative study of burial remains and evidence of mortuary practice. This analysis focuses on practices around the body, as they may reveal notions of the person. The methodology of this project relies on innovative analytical approaches to burial data, exploring the following concepts:

-the body as the surface of display of identity
-the grave as a stage set in which identities are negotiated
-performance at the grave as an expression of relationships to the dead

In short, this study utilizes all available data on and around the material human body to investigate aspects of identity. Human representations can tell us much about the nature of society, about people and how they were entangled in networks of production and consumption. Through a better understanding of individual identities in the late Bronze and early Iron Age we can gain a deeper understanding of social relations and societies as a whole.

Human Representation slide

Publications

[Monograph]


Rebay-Salisbury, K. 2016. The Human Body in Early Iron Age Central Europe. London/New York: Routledge.

[Edited volumes]


A. Gorgues, K. Rebay-Salisbury, and R. B. Salisbury (eds) 2017. Material Chains in Late Prehistoric Europe and the Mediterranean. Mémoires 47. Bordeaux: Ausonius Éditions.

Rebay-Salisbury, K., A. Brysbaert, and L. Foxhall (eds) 2014. Knowledge Networks and Craft Traditions in the Ancient World: Material Crossovers. London: Routledge.

Journal articles and book chapters


Salisbury, R. B., and K. Rebay-Salisbury. 2017. 'Processes of theory: from production sequences and process to chaînes opératoires and object biographies', in A. Gorgues, K. Rebay-Salisbury, and R. B. Salisbury (eds) Material Chains in Late Prehistoric Europe and the Mediterranean, Mémoires 47: 15-29. Bordeaux: Ausonius Éditions.

Foxhall, L., K. Rebay-Salisbury, et al. 2015. "Tracing Networks: technological knowledge, cultural contact and knowledge exchange in the Ancient Mediterranean and beyond," in E. Barker, S. Bouzarovski, C. Pelling, and L. Isaksen (eds) New Worlds out of Old Texts: Developing Techniques for the Spatial Analysis of Ancient Narratives. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 281-300.

Rebay-Salisbury, K., A. Brysbaert, and L. Foxhall. 2014. "Material Crossovers. Introduction," in K. Rebay-Salisbury, A. Brysbaert, and L. Foxhall (eds) Knowledge Networks and Craft Traditions in the Ancient World: Material Crossovers. London: Routledge: 1-6.

Rebay-Salisbury, K. 2014. "Materials make people: how technologies shape figurines in early Iron Age Central Europe," in K. Rebay-Salisbury, A. Brysbaert, and L. Foxhall (eds) Knowledge Networks and Craft Traditions in the Ancient World: Material Crossovers. London: Routledge: 160-181. Bocchi, L., H. Mahmud, K. Rebay-Salisbury, and E. Tuosto. 2013. Virtual Models for Archaeology. Archeologia e Calcolatori 24: 231-250.

Rebay-Salisbury, K. 2013. "Zur Archäologie des Körpers. Körper und Geschlecht in der Hallstattzeit des Nordostalpenraumes," in S. Wefers, J.E. Fries, J. Fries-Knoblach, C. Later, U. Rambuscheck, P. Trebsche, and J. Wiethold (eds) Bilder – Räume – Rollen. Beiträge zur gemeinsamen Sitzung der AG Eisenzeit und der AG Geschlechterforschung während des 7. Deutschen Archäologenkongresses in Bremen 2011, Beiträge zur Ur- und Frühgeschichte Mitteleuropas 72. 81-92. Langenweissbach: Beier und Beran.

Rebay-Salisbury, K. 2012. It's all fun and games until somebody gets hurt: images of sport in early Iron Age art of central Europe. World Archaeology 44, 2: 189-201.

Rebay-Salisbury, K. 2012. "Menschenbilder und Identitäten in der frühen Eisenzeit Mitteleuropas: die Bedeutung von Material und Technologie bei der Weitergabe von Wissensinhalten," in A. Kern, J. K. Koch, I. Balzer, J. Fries-Knoblach, K. Kowarik, C. Later, P.C. Ramsl, P. Trebsche, and J. Wiethold (eds) Technologieentwicklung und -transfer in der Eisenzeit. Bericht der Internationalen Tagung der AG Eisenzeit und des Naturhistorischen Museums, Prähistorische Abteilung - Hallstatt 2009, Beiträge zur Ur- und Frühgeschichte Mitteleuropas 65. 253-262. Langenweissbach: Beier und Beran.

Rebay-Salisbury, K. 2012. It's all fun and games until somebody gets hurt: images of sport in early Iron Age art of central Europe. World Archaeology 44, 2: 189-201.

Rebay-Salisbury, K. 2012. "Menschenbilder und Identitäten in der frühen Eisenzeit Mitteleuropas: die Bedeutung von Material und Technologie bei der Weitergabe von Wissensinhalten," in A. Kern, J.K. Koch, I. Balzer, C. Eggl, J. Fries-Knoblach, K. Kowarik, P. Ramsl, P. Trebsche, and J. Wiethold (eds) Technologieentwicklung und -transfer in der Eisenzeit. Bericht der Internationalen Tagung der AG Eisenzeit und des Naturhistorischen Museums, Prähistorische Abteilung - Hallstatt 2009. Beiträge zur Ur- und Frühgeschichte Mitteleuropas. 177-186. Langenweissbach: Beier und Beran.

Rebay-Salisbury, K. in press (2013). "Materials make people: how technologies shape figurines in early Iron Age Central Europe," in K. Rebay-Salisbury, L. Foxhall, and A. Brysbaert (eds) Material Crossovers: knowledge networks and the movement of technological knowledge between craft traditions. London: Routledge.

Rebay-Salisbury, K. in press (2013) "Bodies in metal, clay and stone: material cross-over in Early Iron Age human imagery " in S. Kohring (ed.) Representation, image, and the materiality of technology.

Rebay-Salisbury, K. in press (2013). "Zur Archäologie des Körpers. Körper und Geschlecht in der Hallstattzeit des Nordostalpenraumes," in S. Wefers (ed.) Eisenzeit und Geschlechterforschung. Bilder – Räume – Rollen, Beiträge zur Ur- und Frühgeschichte Mitteleuropas. Langenweissbach: Beier und Beran.

Rebay-Salisbury, K. in prep (2014). The Human Body in Early Iron Age Central Europe.