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The prehistoric individual, connoisseurship and archaeological science: The Muisca goldwork of Colombia

Martinón-Torres, M; Uribe-Villegas, MA; (2015) The prehistoric individual, connoisseurship and archaeological science: The Muisca goldwork of Colombia. Journal of Archaeological Science , 63 pp. 136-155. 10.1016/j.jas.2015.08.014. Green open access

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Abstract

Unlike art historians, archaeologists rarely make systematic attempts at attributing artefacts to individual artisans - they stop at the broader category of 'provenance regions' or 'technical styles'. The identification of archaeological individuals, however, allows detailed insight into the organisation of workshops, knowledge transmission, skill, and the tension between individual and social agency. This paper reviews the potential of archaeological science methods to identify individual artisans through the study of material culture. Focusing on the Muisca votive goldwork of Colombia, it combines stylistic, chemical and microscopic analyses to identify idiosyncratic motor habits, material selections and artistic preferences that allow the identification of individual makers and manufacturing events. The results are informative of the internal dynamics between the Muisca technological tradition, religious behaviour and craft specialists. We conclude by outlining the potentials and challenges of science-based archaeological connoisseurship in other contexts.

Type: Article
Title: The prehistoric individual, connoisseurship and archaeological science: The Muisca goldwork of Colombia
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2015.08.014
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2015.08.014
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © Elsevier 2015. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/. Access may be initially be restricted by the publisher.
Keywords: Archaeological individual, Colombia, Connoisseurship, Craft organisation, Cultural transmission, Gold, HLLA glass, LA-ICP-MS, Lost-wax, PXRF, South America, Technical style
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1471156
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