TECHNOLOGY, PRODUCTION AND THE USE OF GOODS
Technology and production, trade, exchange and the use of goods are deeply integrated into complex economic, social, political and ideological processes. The starting point for research is the reconstruction of the production process (primarily pertaining to the production of ceramics and metallurgy) in order to better understand all the participants in that process (from producers, through mediators in the exchange and production of goods, to consumers).
The next step in research is interpreting the acquired knowledge and responding to the challenges pertaining to the questions as to how new technologies develop, why they develop in a specific space and time, and what are the reasons for the development of specific forms of production technology and production (household, crafts/trades, worskhop, “protoindustry”). Trade network systems are also avenues for the exchange of ideas and innovations.
Through targeted research topics, another orientation of the Institute’s scientific research will encompass the study and interpretation of the social significance of technology. Through a broad span of periods and cultures, human curiosity experimented with the natural environment and its resources, looking for answers regarding their possible application. Technological processes are an important indicator of the level of social development; they are links in the transfer of knowledge and the mobility of the same or similar production processes between communities in different geographical units. By studying production skills, necessary competences and clearly defined rules pertaining to specific production activities, it is possible to understand and interpret broad economic and sociological aspects. In that context, thematic research is oriented also towards the products themselves, which, because of the development of mobility and communication systems, acquire the significance of consumer goods. Its source manufacturing centres are defined by the application of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research and archaeometric analyses offering various methods in the study of the compatibility of raw materials and finished products. These analyses complement the knowledge on market formation, its economic conditionalities in the relationship of supply and demand, the meeting of the basic needs of sustainability, the monetary form of exchange, but also fashion as an important part of the human need for certain class-related, religious or simply aesthetic identifications. Based on the analyses of the originality of manufacture (the origin of goods), and according to the origin of raw materials and the model (type) of execution, manufacturing centres are identified, both local and “protoindustrial”, as well as the global directions of distribution towards centres of exchange and trade destinations, from early prehistoric communities, through antique and mediaeval urban centres.
Therefore, natural resources, the level of manufacturing technology, the development of communications and mobility of people and goods – these are the basic directions in this research unit in the local and broader Danube and Mediterranean region, which will be encompassed by project tasks through the envisaged period of the project’s duration.
Pottery is the medium with the longest continuity of duration, which follows the development and changes of individuals and society. As everyday utilitarian objects, pottery offers a wealth of information about the space in which it is used, about the standard of living of the people that use it, their dietary habits and the cultures they grow. The finds of ceramics within sacred spaces, the uses of pottery in rites and rituals and artistic performances bear witness to the spiritual and stylistic perception of specific social communities, as well as to pottery as a medium of social interactions and strategies. Ceramic vessels in the context of burial rites are also seen as symbols whose decoding offers insight into the identities of the members of the community and/or the community as a unit. Pottery research is planned at several levels: pottery as a product, as goods, identification, communication, symbol, tradition, style and fashion.
In addition to ceramic goods, which are omnipresent in space and time, another thematic interest is directed towards the research of metallurgical production. The research includes identifying manufacturing centres and the technology of production, providing insight into raw materials, tools and implements, as well as human resources. Geological sources of ores from primary and secondary sources, as well as a sufficient quantity of necessary resources for a certain production are the basis for the formation of the specific archaeological landscape, within which are organized metallurgical and manufacturing centres of local or “protoindustrial” forms. The indicators of the development of a settlement with local metallurgical production and of independent manufacturing centres are reflected in the availability of a series of natural resources, but also in relation to the degree of the development of technological competences of individual social communities. The acquisition of skills in mastering new technologies, in addition to self-development and relative availability/accessibility of raw materials, depend considerably on the mobility and transfer of ideas and knowledge taking place throughout all archaeological periods. These studies offer new considerations regarding the development of social communities and cultures, as well as an exchange of knowledge and technology.