2nd Experimental Archaeology Conference Abstract – Cordula Hansen

From the 2nd Experimental Archaeology Conference, Exeter, 2007.

“Umha Aois/The Bronze Age 4,000 Years On” – Experiment and Experience

Cordula Hansen,

Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford, Ireland

This presentation will introduce the Umha Aois experimental bronze casting project, which was founded in 1995 by a group of artists and archaeologists in Ireland. The project’s contribution to archaeological research will be discussed on the background of some theoretical considerations regarding the value of practical knowledge in academic studies.

Umha Aois (Irish for “Bronze Age”) has been mainly led by art practitioners until 2004, when interest from archaeologists and PhD researchers increased dramatically. Organised as an annual symposium, the project is unique in its thoroughly interdisciplinary approach, which brings together theoreticians and practitioners from a variety of fields.

Now in its 12th year, the project is beginning to make a significant contribution to experimental archaeology. Participants have gained a high level of competence in Bronze Age casting technologies and are generating publishable data.

Apart from the annual casting symposia, the group’s activities now include demonstrations at heritage events, educational activities for schools, regular publications and exhibitions as well as ongoing research by individual members.

Due to its interdisciplinary nature, Umha Aois provides a forum for experiential activities and scientific experiment, practical skills and theoretical thought in fields as diverse as art, archaeology, ethnography and philosophy.

This paper will concentrate on the potential relationships between academic and practical knowledge within Umha Aois as an interdisciplinary research group. The presentation will conclude by placing the project into the wider context of current models of research and knowledge generation, which encourage practical experience in combination with traditional academic research.

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