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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

Deliberate Fragmentation Revisited

Deliberate fragmentation revisited - assessing social and material agency in the archaeological record

Session to be held in the 19th European Association of Archaeologists Annual Meeting

(Pilsen, Czech Republic, 4-8th September 2013)


Prof. John Chapman*, Dr. Antonio Blanco-González* and Dr. Jasna Vuković**

* Durham University, Dept. of Archaeology, South Road, Durham DH1 3LE, United Kingdom. ** University of Beograd, Dept. of Archaeology, Philosophical Faculty, Čika Ljubina 18-20, 11000 Beograd, Serbia.

Session Abstract

The definition and testing of the premise of the deliberate fragmentation of material culture has been researched for over a decade (Chapman 2000;Chapman & Gaydarska 2007). During this timespan the premise has witnessed a number of substantial developments and has also received some insightful criticisms (Brittain & Harris 2010) which all in all have broadened its initial scope. This research topic has been addressed in previous EAA Annual Meetings, giving special attention to its archaeological recognition and anthropological interpretation (Bournemouth, 1999) or focusing on the technical concerns of re-fitting exercises (Kraków, 2006). Currently the social practice of fragmentation is inseparable from other intertwined topics dealing with the formation of the archaeological record. Thus, this session draws upon recent theoretical proposals such as the appraisal of intentionality and social agency in past depositional practices, materiality, identity, personhood and alternative ontologies. This international event is aimed at contrasting different approaches to the fragmentation of material culture within a broad spatial and temporal framework. It is designed to discuss representative case studies involving both methodological and interpretative concerns. If successful, the results of this session will be published as a peer-reviewed monograph edited by the organisers.

Contributions/potential attendees

Prospective speakers in this session are invited to address some of the following research issues:

  • Context-specific case studies for testing the deliberate fragmentation premise with a wide range of materials, particularly fired clay/ceramics but also other materials, including stones (from orthostats to microliths), metal, animal and human bone, wood, shell, eggshell, etc.
  • Intended and meaningful practies in the archaeological record: deliberate breakage, mobility of fragmented material culture (its dispersion and reassembly), selective and 'structured' deposition.
  • Taphonomical and 'biographical' accounts, specially addressing the life cycles of objects prior to enter the archaeological record: life use beyond the breakage; patterns for recognising deliberate/unintended breakage; middening and other transitory depositional contexts; reuse of material culture; definite depositional contexts.
  • Social interpretations of the patterns of intended fragmentation, mobility and deposition of objects in the archaeological record (tokens, relics/heirlooms, presencing, enchainment, quotation, etc).

Important dates

The deadline for the submission of papers is on 15th March 2013.

The deadline for early fee registration is on 1st June 2013.

More infomation

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