Networks and the Evolution of Socio-material Differentiation

Carl Knappett

in Social Brain, Distributed Mind

Published by British Academy

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780197264522
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734724 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Networks and the Evolution of Socio-material Differentiation

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Ideas of ‘distributed mind’ are invaluable to archaeology in explaining the intimate involvement of artefacts in human cognition. Much of the work in this domain, however, focuses on proximate interactions of very limited numbers of individuals and artefacts. This chapter argues that people need to broaden the understanding of distributed mind to encompass whole assemblages of artefacts spread across space and time; and that these assemblages can be best conceptualized as networks in which both objects and people are enfolded and enacted. While such networks may exist to some extent in the Palaeolithic and Neolithic eras, it is with the Bronze Age that they really come to the fore, extending the scale of human action beyond the proximate like never before. Examples of this extensive socio-material differentiation are taken from the Aegean Bronze Age, with a focus on pottery.

Keywords: distributed mind; archaeology; human cognition; Palaeolithic era; Bronze Age; pottery

Chapter.  6436 words. 

Subjects: Psychology

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