Prehistoric archaeology, anthropology and material culture studies. Aspects of their origins and common roots

Hafner, Albert (2017). Prehistoric archaeology, anthropology and material culture studies. Aspects of their origins and common roots. In: Heiz, Caroline; Stapfer, Regine (eds.) Pottery and Mobility. Archaeological and Anthropological perspectives (pp. 39-51). Leiden, Netherlands: Sidestone Press

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Pottery, then as now, formed an important part of many societies’ material culture. The study of ceramic vessels is mainly carried out by archaeologists and anthropologists. The two disciplines undoubtedly have a special relationship based on their shared interest in the cultural, social and economic meaning of man-made objects. While prehistoric archaeology evolved from early collections of ancient artefacts, anthropology originated from the collections of overseas ethnographica. In both cases, the aim was to document and understand disappeared or disappearing cultures. Although both disciplines have subsequently developed in different directions, their paths have repeatedly crossed throughout research history, leading to the formation, for instance, of ‘cultural anthropology’, ‘ethnoarchaeology’ and ‘material culture studies’. After ‘objects’ had epistemologically fallen out of fashion amongst many humanities and social sciences in the post-modern era, the recent ‘material turn’ has again shifted the focus onto material culture. The latter development might offer an opportunity for a rapprochement between anthropology and archaeology, as this volume shows. This contribution therefore aims to examine some of the convergences and divergences that occurred between the two disciplines in the past. The main focus here will be put on prehistoric archaeology.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of Archaeological Sciences > Pre- and Early History

UniBE Contributor:

Hafner, Albert


900 History > 930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499)




Sidestone Press


[4] Swiss National Science Foundation ; [UNSPECIFIED] Foundation Dürmüller-Bol ; [UNSPECIFIED] Universitätsstiftung Bern




Albert Hafner-Lafitte

Date Deposited:

20 Jun 2018 16:43

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:10




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