CRC 1266 - Scales of Transformation

"Detecting and explaining technological innovation in prehistoric Europe"

Detecting and explaining technological innovation in prehistoric Europe

The workshop will focus on changes at relatively fine temporal scales in the chaîne opératoire for the production of ceramic, lithic and organic artefacts. The aim is to observe the process of innovation, from the initial appearance of new technologies to their adoption and diffusion. 

We think it is not enough to map which innovations were diffused rapidly across cultural boundaries, or which societies were more conservative and which were more receptive to innovation. We need to understand the social context and historical circumstances before attempting to explain these patterns. In particular, we need to think about how technical skills are transmitted and reproduced.

We hope to gain a better understanding of the factors promoting innovation in prehistoric societies. Are more egalitarian societies less innovative? Is craft specialisation indivisible from social complexity? Are innovations more acceptable during periods of stability or crisis? Is there a relationship between innovation and inter-connectedness (or isolation)? Is the old idea that every change was driven by external influences really irrelevant today?

Invited researchers from a variety of backgrounds (field archaeology, anthropology, archaeometry, ethnoarchaeology and experimental archaeology) will discuss evidence of innovation in the production of different artefact types (e.g. pottery, lithic, bone). Although most presentations will focus on prehistoric Europe, analogous problems in other regions will be discussed.

The workshop will take place on 23-24 November 2017 at Kiel University. Sixteen speakers will contribute an original paper. Proceedings will be published in a co-edited peer-reviewed volume.


Dr Michela Spataro
Mercator Fellow
Social Dimension of Technological Change
CRC1266, Kiel University