Technology and Material Life

Kacy L. Hollenback and Michael Brian Schiffer

in The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780199218714
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

Technology and Material Life


Humans live in a world of things. They are surrounded by artefacts. Referred to as the social shaping of technology, this has been an interesting area of research in the recent past. The focus of this article is on the ‘material life’ of human beings, and the place of technology within it. The authors approach this topic from the discipline of archaeology, specifically behavioural archaeology, but also draw on research in other fields. This article, expands this framework to include the life histories of technologies and associated material practices. This article further contextualizes contemporary technology studies, primarily in archaeology, and considers how theoretical concepts from behavioural archaeology and social constructivist studies of technology might be combined. Archaeological studies of technology are explained in details in the following section with special emphasis on performance characteristics. This article also explains the life history of technology which helps us conceptualize material practices in relation to objects and technologies.

Keywords: technology; material life; behavioral archaeology; material practices; social constructivist

Article.  7182 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; History and Theory of Archaeology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribeRecommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »