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Curricular information is subject to change
On completion of this module, you will be able to
1. Critically consider the potential goals, benefits and limitations of experimental archaeology as a means of investigating past material cultures.
2. Appreciate and evaluate the scope, methods and outcomes of experimental archaeology projects.
3. Have an in-depth appreciation for the materials, effort, understanding, entanglement and technologies that are required to create any object.
4. Develop a detailed understanding for copper-alloy casting technologies over time as well as the archaeology of this craft.
During the early medieval period in Ireland (as well as other parts of the British Isles and continental Europe) identities (status, roles, gender, kinship, age, etc.) were, in part, expressed through personal objects of adornment. Indeed, there are a large range of sources for these types of objects, including archaeological finds (both direct and indirect) early texts and iconography/pictorial (summary in Doyle 2015).
Brooches of copper-alloy (Bronze, Brass, etc.) and silver (Youngs 1990) are by far the most common objects of this class. For the most part, these were made by melting non-ferrous (non-iron) metals in clay or stone vessels called ‘crucibles’ and pouring the resulting liquid into a mould. Nevertheless, this action only represents a tiny proportion of the work, knowledge and resources that it took to form these objects. Although brooches can be extremely well crafted, comprising many different pieces joined together (i.e. Tara Brooch) these are relatively rare. Instead, the majority of brooch finds (as well as other indirect indicators) point to simple, single metal items, similar to one found at Castlefarm 1, Co. Meath (O'Connell & Clark 2009: Plate 51, 52). In contemporary pictish (Scottish), Welsh and Anglo-Saxon sites (not to mentioned western Europe) it appears that people were expressing themselves in similar ways, using similar technologies.
But what did it mean to make these objects? Was it possible for anyone in society to make such items or was it restricted to only skilled craftspeople? How did people get the materials needed to make brooches? What are the other aspects of material culture that would have been needed to make them?
To begin to answer these questions, this class will seek to replicate a simple penannular brooch based on the Dooey Brooch Mould. This is one half (valve) of a two part clay brooch mould preserving the negative impression of a tiny brooch with barrel terminals and lozenge motif decoration. It is the best preserved mould of its kind from early medieval Ireland and as such is an important piece of evidence for how we reconstruct this process. Although this object will be our main source, this module will look to a range of evidence from early medieval excavations (in Ireland and abroad) to seek to identify links in the chain of production. This will include, making the metals, making appropriate fuel and making ‘technical ceramics’, such as crucibles and moulds. In the end, students in this module will have a detailed understanding for the technologies and materials needed to make cast objects, an advanced understanding for entanglement theory and the chaine opératoire, and will be able to apply this structured approach to their research more generally.
|Student Effort Type||Hours|
|Seminar (or Webinar)||
|Autonomous Student Learning||
Not applicable to this module.
|Description||Timing||Component Scale||% of Final Grade|
|Presentation: Produce recorded PowerPoint presentation base on the current state of knowledge (5-7 mins)||Week 4||n/a||Graded||No||
|Project: Research project title: ‘Understanding the technologies, skills and social structures needed to create a ‘Dooey’ style brooch using the chaine opératoire principle’ (4500 words)||Week 12||n/a||Graded||No||
|Resit In||Terminal Exam|
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
You will receive mandatory one-to-one feedback with the module coordinator after your first assessment. This will help guide you towards making improvements for your second assessment and will be targeted specifically at structure, formatting and writing style. Feedback for your second assessment is optional, but highly recommended, and will focus on project design, expression and content.
|Dr Brendan O'Neill||Lecturer / Co-Lecturer|