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Book: The Power of Technology in the Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean

Chapter: The Power of Technology, Knowledge and Social Agency

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.22588


This chapter discusses existing ideas and theories about what technology is, how it is interwoven with human action and how the concept of the chaîne opératoire aids in demonstrating this relation between technology and human action. It discusses and looks into who artisans were, how they were organized in pre-industrial societies, and what their social identities may have been. It also touches upon the advantages and disadvantages of applying modern concepts to past societies, concepts such as ‘parttime’ versus ‘full-time’ labour, and being ‘attached’ or ‘independent’ as a worker.

Since the main focus of this book is on painted plaster, and technology is another focus, here is the appropriate place to familiarize ourselves with some basic relevant terminology relating to the technology of painted plaster (see also the glossary). Furthermore, all consecutive steps of paintings on plaster are sketched here. Finally, some definitions relating to a social approach to technology will elucidate both social and technological aspects encountered when focusing on ancient technologies as an all-encompassing concept (on why I consider definitions methodologically necessary here, see Costin 2005: 1078-79). Apart from the definitions, this chapter is divided into several more sections for clarity. The way that these sections overlap and link is meant to reflect how people are really central to this discussion and how they form the connector throughout. Human agency, in fact, weaves this chapter together.

Chapter Contributors

  • Ann Brysbaert ( - book-auth-436) 'University of Leicester'