Maikel Kuijpers

About my researh

Metalworking craftsmanship. Re-thinking Early Bronze Age metalworking technology in the North Alpine Region with the use of craft theory.

Maikel Kuijpers

It is common for archaeologist to regard metalworking as a highly skilled practice, and thus interpret it as a specialised technology from which further ideas with regards to the Bronze Age are deduced (e.g. specialisation, emergence of hierarchical societies, elites, itinerant metalworkers). My research focusses on the too easily made assumption that metalworking was very skilled and tries to understand which skills were actually involved. What does it mean to be skilled?

Specifically, I am exploring what skills and choices are involved in the production of common objects such as axes. Different choices are being made during the production of similar looking objects. These are interpreted as a sign of different attitudes towards the material, most likely dependent on their intended use-life. Furthermore, there appears to be a large variability in skill (and lack thereof). These observations are used to explore questions regarding the character of metalworking craftsmanship in the Early Bronze Age. Here, I follow what I will call ‘craft theory’, which has been taken from a renewed interest in craft and craftsmanship from a sociological and philosophical perspective. Such studies may eventually question the common association between the emergence of metal and elites but also the increased mobility in the Bronze Age and subsequently the spread of metalworking technology, as the transfer of skills cannot be explained in such a straightforward manner.

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