Session at EAA2022
Experimental archaeology in its broadest sense is instrumental to our current understanding of technology, structures, and lifeways of hunter-gatherer humans throughout the Pleistocene and Holocene. Stone and organic tool technologies, fire, adhesives, dwelling structures, art, taphonomy, landscape use, abstract thinking and symbolism are but some of the topics that are explored through both scientific experiments and experiential approaches. The benefits of advances in quantitative and highly-controlled experimental research for archaeology are clear. Yet, problems also remain regarding the foundational data upon which we base such controlled experiments. The skills and people behind technologies are often understudied and poorly understood, and the ‘realism’ behind high levels of control can also be lost. In that sense, both experiential archaeology, and research involving skilled participants, children, and the experience and skills of Indigenous peoples can and should also play an important role.
This session explores experimental approaches to Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Archaeology through historical perspectives of the development of experimental archaeology, theoretical papers on its role in interpreting the past, methodological developments, and case studies of experimental applications. It will include a discussion of the similarities, advantages and challenges with experimental and experiential approaches, and the role of experimental archaeology in science communication and community involvement. We invite papers from a wide range of geographical areas and subjects to showcase the impact that scientifically controlled experiments and experiential perspectives continue to have on our understanding of the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic.
Main organiser: Bentsen, Silje (Norway) 1,2
Co-organisers: Milks, Annemieke (United Kingdom) 3,4
1. Nordland County Council
2. School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies, University of the Witwatersrand
3. University of Reading
4. University College London