9th Experimental Archaeology Conference abstract – Hurcombe
Perishables, Pragmatics and Perception: the role of experiments in the interpretation, understanding, and presentation of archaeological objects
University of Exeter
Experiments come in many forms: some form reference collections others use replication to conduct research through practice. Modern technologies can be used alongside traditional crafts and research can use social science methodologies as well as those of hard science. The touching the past project includes multiple layers of data derived from experiments using all of these approaches to both research and present archaeological objects. Ideas were drawn from a range of sources and disciplines and installations were developed to deliver a range of touch experiences within a variety of museum and outreach settings. Crafted replicas were based on a raft of experiments. These were used alongside very new technologies such as 3D prints in a series of museum trials which themselves formed a series of experiments.
The unique Bronze Age perishable material from Whitehorse Hill (Dartmoor, SW Britain) has formed the most recent iteration of these ideas in a 3 month exhibition at Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery. The replicated objects include a tin-studded woven band and a nettle and hide textile as well as 3D prints of a lime bast basket. Using examples drawn from the project it is possible to show the complex role of experimental archaeology as the
intersection between theory and practice, research and presentation, science and art.