Archaeology and Heritage

Scandinavian Late Iron Age gold foil figures through the lens of intra-action
Ing-Marie Back Danielsson

This chapter discusses minuscule gold foil figures from the Scandinavian Late Iron Age and demonstrates how the figures are continuously in the making, rather than being still representations of gods. In the past, the figures’ affectual qualities, such as their small size, their shininess and their human-like and foldable character, invited play and experimentation, stressing the figures’ ongoing-ness. Equally, their capacities to be simultaneously image, object and component allowed them to be reconfigured into new arrangements, stressing their fractal, emerging and open-ended character. By contrast, in the present, they become ‘victims’ of representationalist thought, through the framing and boundary making practices set up by for instance museums, keeping the figures in complete motionlessness. Instead, it is only through the help of different apparatuses (digital photography, copying etc.), that they become generative and are in the making in the present, stressing that we today to a greater extent deal with gold foil figures’ hauntology, rather than their ontology.

in Images in the making
The carved stone balls of Northeast Scotland
Andrew Meirion Jones

This chapter discusses the carved stone balls of Neolithic Scotland. An analysis of the making of carved stone balls using digital imaging methods is presented. This analysis provides a platform for the reassessment of Plato’s well-known approach to art, in which images are considered to be illusory representations. A reflection on carved stone balls as forms generated in-the-making enables us to reconsider the relationship between form and image proposed by Plato. Rather than thinking of form as a ready-made template into which matter is inserted (the Platonic view), we can instead envisage that matter and form are coextensive, and the form and matter take shape through practices of working and engagement.

in Images in the making
Art, process, archaeology

This book presents a study of material images and asks how an appreciation of the making and unfolding of images and art alters archaeological accounts of prehistoric and historic societies. With contributions focusing on case studies including prehistoric Britain, Scandinavia, Iberia, the Americas and Dynastic Egypt, and including contemporary reflections on material images, it makes a novel contribution to ongoing debates relating to archaeological art and images. The book offers a New Materialist analysis of archaeological imagery, with an emphasis on considering the material character of images and their making and unfolding. The book reassesses the predominantly representational paradigm of archaeological image analysis and argues for the importance of considering the ontology of images. It considers images as processes or events and introduces the verb ‘imaging’ to underline the point that images are conditions of possibility that draw together differing aspects of the world. The book is divided into three sections: ‘Emergent images’, which focuses on practices of making; ‘Images as process’, which examines the making and role of images in prehistoric societies; and ‘Unfolding images’, which focuses on how images change as they are made and circulated. The book features contributions from archaeologists, Egyptologists, anthropologists and artists. The contributors to the book highlight the multiple role of images in prehistoric and historic societies, demonstrating that archaeologists need to recognise the dynamic and changeable character of images.

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Ing-Marie Back Danielsson and Andrew Meirion Jones

In the book’s introductory chapter long-held assumptions concerning archaeological art and images are addressed and challenged, particularly representationalism, and new ways to approach and understand them are offered. Specifically, it is argued that art and images continuously emerge in processes of making and engagement, both in the past and in the present. Hence, art and images are always in motion, multiple and unfolding, and the Introduction thus stresses the importance of considering the ontology of images. The chapter introduces the verb ‘imaging’ to underline the point that images are conditions of possibility that draw together differing aspects of the world. It is also demonstrated that images, as ongoing events, encompass and realise affects, and the significance of experimental play in processes of making is equally underlined.

in Images in the making
A material and processual account of image making
Agni Prijatelj

This chapter offers a theoretically informed approach to the stamps and their imprints, in order to understand relational processes between various materials, images, humans and non-humans in the Neolithic and Copper Age Balkans. By drawing on assemblage theory (DeLanda 2016) and Vital Materialism (Bennett 2010), it explores distinct material engagements in which stamps, and their impressions, were involved in the creation of some harmonious and some dissonant connections and entanglements within more-than-human communities. It is argued that stamps covered things and bodies with new visual, textural and taste-sensory layers, transforming their properties either temporarily or more permanently. These new distinct assemblages – bodies/things-with-stamped-imagery – emerged through a process of vital material engagement governed by horizontal relations between humans and non-humans.

in Images in the making
Being and becoming in faience figurines of Middle Kingdom ancient Egypt
Rune Nyord

Ancient Egyptian grave goods are traditionally understood as relatively straightforward evidence of the material needs of a human being in the afterlife, either literally (e.g. food and drink) or in various symbolic ways. A good example where such symbolic readings have dominated modern understandings is the well-known category of faience figurines of hippopotamuses from Middle Kingdom (Middle Bronze Age, early second millennium BCE) Egypt. Drawing on the materiality of the object and the transformations it undergoes during fabrication, it is argued that the production technique based on chemical efflorescence offers a powerful conceptual model for the ontology of the image. The mode of fabrication where an internal potential is drawn out of the material by drying and heating on the one hand, and the surface decoration representing the lush aquatic environment of the river Nile on the other, serve to add elements of flow and continuous becoming to the otherwise fixed and stable form of the glazed figurine.

in Images in the making
Fredrik Fahlander

Studies of rock art normally depart from a classification of type, style and what the motifs represents or depicts. South Scandinavian rock art, however, is often vague, incomplete and fragmentary. In this chapter, it is argued that certain rock art motifs, mainly boats and anthropomorphs, were deliberately made incomplete as a part of a vitalist technology with the aim of affecting the world. An important aspect of such visual vagueness, intentional or not, is that it can function as a punctum in Roland Barthes’s terminology and evoke affect among beholders. The incomplete motifs also stress the making of rock art as a continuous process in which details can be added over time to enhance certain aspects or radically alter the motif. The chapter is illustrated with examples of Bronze Age rock art of the Mälaren district in central-eastern Sweden.

in Images in the making
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A commentary
Louisa Minkin
in Images in the making
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Iron Age ‘kintsugi’ from East Yorkshire
Helen Chittock

This chapter concerns two forms of repair that originate from two distinct traditions of mending with very different histories, geographies and time spans. The primary focus of the chapter is on decorated Iron Age metalwork from East Yorkshire (UK), an assemblage of objects dating to between approximately 350 BCE and 100 CE, which contains frequent examples of use, damage, repair and modification. New evidence on the uses of these objects is presented, and it is argued that viewing their repairs and modifications from the perspective of kintsugi, a Japanese art form thought to have been established during the late fifteenth century, might allow new understandings of Iron Age metalwork to be reached. With particular focus on the aesthetics of repair, it is demonstrated that the accretion of different decorative patterns and contrasting components on some Iron Age objects was a mode of emphasising repairs and modifications and making the changes in the values and functions of these objects visible. The repairs were meant to be seen and formed aspects of patinas of age and imperfection, that added value to the objects, and perhaps also served mnemonic functions.

in Images in the making
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Iberian Late Bronze Age ‘warrior’ stelae in-the-making
Marta Díaz-Guardamino

Traditionally, formal approaches to rock art, and particularly petroglyphs, were focused on meaning and representation. Rock art images and panels were held as finished projects, as static representations of symbolic frameworks, while their material dimension or temporality were overlooked. This chapter illustrates how rock art is co-constituted through the dynamic interplay of different entities, including people, tools and the ever-changing surface of rocks. Rock ‘panels’ are not passive repositories of human carving activities but do actually play a significant role in shaping rock art production, as well as the skill and knowledge of the engraver(s). Furthermore, petroglyphs were meant not for mere contemplation but also – and perhaps mainly – to be engaged with, as the complex biographies of some panels reveal. Ultimately, the chapter argues that activities and materials involved in rock art making may have held as much significance as the images produced, and that rock art may be considered as an open-ended process. These ideas are illustrated through the results of recent research on the so-called ‘warrior’ stelae, part of what researchers identify as a fairly standardised tradition found in Iberia, that has been dated to the Late Bronze Age.

in Images in the making