5-8 September 2018
On the destruction of value during the Bronze and Iron Age in Europe and the Mediterranean
Session #687 of the 24th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists
The Maastricht 2017 session “The Value of all Things” approached the many facets of value assessment in the Ancient World. At the EAA in Barcelona 2018, we would like to take this discussion a step further, and investigate the whys and hows of value destruction.
Indeed, one of the most noticeable archaeological phenomena in European and Mediterranean late prehistoric societies is the deliberate withdrawal of values from circulation: hoards that were never retrieved, depositions in wetlands, grave goods – sometimes ritually mutilated – and offerings made in sanctuaries. In other words, value – at least in its material form – was destroyed or alienated, as these artefacts could no longer be used, possessed, given away, exchanged or displayed.
Such behaviour can be explained in the context of power: performative artefact destruction, for instance, may be intended to emphasize the wealth and power of an individual; or a ritual offering may be aimed at obtaining the goodwill of the gods. We would like, however, in this session to consider an alternative approach, that artefact withdrawal, more than being a destruction of value, was a way of converting value: The conversion of a material value that could be measured, evaluated and negotiated, into a symbolic and incommensurable value.
We would like to invite papers based on specific case studies (whether at a local, regional or inter-regional scale) as well as more theoretical contributions, in order to encourage a comparative approach to the many seemingly contradictive aspects of the curation of valuables.