Ancient communities around the globe were variably interconnected through cultural practices, subsistence modes, socio-political relationships, and ritual experiences. Local environments played a role in shaping the tenor, nodality, intensity, and duration of intra- and inter-community connection dynamics amongst and between foragers, farmers, and pastoralists.
This topic encourages sessions that explore the emergence of novel forms of human-environment and human-human interconnections and their subsequent evolution in subsistence arenas, social spheres, as well as in trade and political networks. The theme provides an opportunity to explore interconnectivity through a variety of theoretical frameworks including, but not limited to, niche construction, thing theory, the animal turn, personhood, and intersectionality.
Pandemics bring to mind similar patterns of human reactions and actions in crisis situations. Crises, such as pandemics and climatic shifts, require social responses to mitigate their impacts, regardless of the setting. In past crises, people acted and reacted according to similar patterns yet to be discovered. Whether in prehistoric or historical times, an increase in the diversity of options might have enabled innovative ways of dealing with a new situation as well as prompting a broadening of the economic and intellectual resources of communities.
Archaeology can make a decisive contribution by exploring resilience and the sustainability of human societies in prehistoric and historical times. The diverse ways in which people changed their behaviour towards the environment to adjust to climate change may have triggered fundamental cultural changes or vice versa.
Pandemics and climate change might have been linked, which necessitates the exploration of the topics together. Connections between environmental challenges, the development of epidemics and pandemics, and social reactions may be illustrated. To this end, sessions are invited which deal with socio-environmental aspects of climatic change and/or pandemics/epidemics.
People, goods, food, plants, animals, and micro-organisms have always been on the move. Worldwide interconnections between cultures and peoples find their expression in globalised exchange networks. The identification of alternating exchange pathways is still a challenge in archaeology in order to overcome narratives of unidirectional developments. Globalisation as a worldwide process, including the associated regional effects and reactions, are of primary importance. The underlying hypothesis – the more that people are connected, the lower the potential for conflict – is the starting point. In times of a pandemic, it is even more essential to know how people reacted in a globalised world in crisis situations: not only in industrial and post-industrial times but also in distant times, which provide us, so to say, with a mirror of our behaviour. Thus, the identification of phenomena with transformative power in the past is crucial to answer the question how foragers, first farmers, ancient societies or early modern urban communities reacted to ground-breaking crisis situations.
We invite sessions that pay special attention to cultural heterogeneity as well as to modes of acculturation and hybridisation and their relevance for the dispersal of technological innovations and the associated social relationships. We also welcome sessions that offer new narratives for an understanding of past globalisation through inter- and cross-disciplinary approaches, for example, focusing on the connections of central places/hubs with the hinterland and the identification of connecting nodes through the application of network analyses.
Over the past several decades, archaeological sciences have revealed new insights into the ways in which people acquired their food, shaped their diets, managed raw materials, distributed finished goods, fashioned tools, and moved across landscapes. Archaeological sciences continue to rapidly develop, playing an increasingly significant role in documenting ancient human lifeways. With information now routinely extracted at the macro-, micro-, and biomolecular levels, major developments in archaeological theory have opened new ways to think about how people and communities engaged with each other and interacted with the landscape and the built environment.
This theme seeks to explore the interplay between archaeological theory and the archaeological sciences, examining the ebb and flow of various theoretical currents and analytical approaches as part of efforts to come to a better understanding of our shared human past.
With a variety of traditional and innovative approaches to the study of artefacts, archaeology is leading the field of material culture studies worldwide. Archaeology studies the things people left behind – the patterns of production, distribution and consumption of materials and objects as well as the social implications of producing, using and discarding objects.
Increasingly sophisticated analytical methods, including isotopic and use-wear analyses, integrated with theoretical approaches, such as chaîne opératoire and cross-craft-interaction, have led to new insights into how people engaged with materials and artefacts throughout time.
Material culture affects the world people live in, their interactions with each other and the social world they construct. Material practice, the agency of things and the social interpretation of the impact of material culture are increasingly defining the contours of social archaeology. The analysis of material culture expands into the heritage sector, with questions of authenticity, ownership and trafficking of archaeological objects as the most pressing concerns.
We invite sessions that address topics ranging from individual artefact studies and material analyses to methodological and theoretical aspects of the role of materials within societies.
Due to their geographical positioning, interactions between the Baltic and Pontic regions were formative for numerous developments in European prehistory and history. The wide area of inter-connectedness linked Scandinavia and the Northern European plain with the vast steppes as far as the Black Sea. Developments in Southeastern and Central Europe are also connected with those of the wider Eurasian landscape via the Baltic-Pontic zone of interaction.
We invite sessions that explore the archaeology of the Baltic-Pontic area from a variety of diverse perspectives, for instance, interpreting material culture, applying theoretical approaches, and exploring the latest scientific results in these regions, including Scandinavia and the Southeast. Special attention will be accorded to explorations of cultural heterogeneity and subsistence strategies in the various landscapes, the occurrence of parallel phenomena in the different areas, interconnections between cultures and peoples, and also to the region’s role in cultural reception, transformation and transmission in Europe’s history from prehistoric times to the modern ages.