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D2 Materiality and Practice (project completed)

Materiality and Practice: Cultural Entanglements of 2nd millennium BC East Mediterranean Societies

Coordination: Markus Hilgert, Joseph Maran, Peter A. Miglus, Diamantis Panagiotopoulos


Intercultural contacts have the capacity to trigger processes of change and thus of the creative appropriation of otherness. However, the crucial role of material objects in these processes is often underestimated. In our project we analyze the dialectical interaction between objects, agency and social practices in the creation of societal realities. On the one hand, humans create and use material objects; on the other, those objects shape them and their minds. Our project analyses this dialectical relationship between people and materiality in the context of transcultural entanglements and in the mirror of the social practices connected with the objects. We are dealing with three different spheres (administration, cult, consumption) of the integration of foreign or new goods and technologies into social practices of 2nd millennium BC societies in the East Mediterranean. We investigate how and by whom novel objects and ideas were appropriated and how new patterns of practice and material forms were created through such processes. This will add significantly to the clarification of the processes underlying the mutual transformation of early societies at the Mediterranean interface of Asia and Europe and increase our understanding of the emergence of the first palace-based civilizations using early systems of writing and central administration in what is now called Europe.

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