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Forum ReSoc        27st June 2019

Innovation and the diffusion of Innovation: Crossroads between Archaeology and Ethnography

Featuring Christopher D. Buckley,  Louise Iles & Valentine Roux
Panel Members Mark Pearce, Constance von Rüden & Thomas Stöllner
Yiu-Kang Hsu  & Peter Thomas

  • Date 27th June 2019 starting 13.30h, end approx. 18.00h
  • Location Haus der Archäologien (Hörsaal), Am Bergbaumuserum 31, 44791 Bochum
  • Registration is free. Please send an email to: or to help our planning!
  • Organised by Yiu-Kang Hsu & Peter Thomas (Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum) 
  • Speakers Christopher D. Buckley (Independent Researcher, UK), Louise Iles (University of Sheffield) & Valentine Roux (French National Centre for Scientific Research)
  • Panel Members Mark Pearce (University of Nottingham), Constance von Rüden (Ruhr-University Bochum), Thomas Stöllner (Deutsches Bergbau-Museum & Ruhr-University Bochum)

Following Diane Lyons and Joanna Casey (2016), we discuss the role ethnoarchaeology has in developing, testing and building archaeological interpretation and how it produces rich ethnographic and material information to think about human-material relationships, not necessarily as analogies, but as empirical accounts of how culturally different people engage with the material in complex and variable ways.

Technological Innovation and its diffusion seen in archaeological record have been constantly associated with major societal changes over the course of human history. Inferring from material evidence, archaeologists have attempted to identify and characterize the emerging innovation in the past and making assumptions about how it took place and got dispersed. However, artefacts at best are snapshots reflecting an ultimate result rather than an exact process of technical choices. This shortcoming of archaeological enquiry runs a risk of making too much hypothesis about the technological change and its correlation with the transformation of society under study.

Ethnography, a specific subject of studying cross-cultural phenomenon of contemporary societies, has proven useful to delineate the structure of craft production and transmission that contribute to the understanding of technological change and stability (Lyons & Casey 2016). This forum sets up to focus on how ethnographic studies theorize complexity of chaîne opératoire (technical operations), the transfer of the technical tradition and ultimately how these combined factors influence the dynamic process of reception or resistance of innovation (Roux 2007). Although bridging the gap in the archaeological record is one main task of the forum, we do not content with finding analogies for archaeological application. In fact, we rather want to explore ways of thinking differently about how human engaged with technological transfer and to test and develop conceptual models in real time (Cunningham 2009).


The Speakers

Across the Thread of Time: Innovation and Transmission of
Traditional Weaving Technologies in the Asia-Pacific Region

Invisible Innovations in East African Iron Production

Conditions for the diffusion of technical innovations

Innovation and the diffusion of Innovation: Crossroads between Archaeology and Ethnography

June 27th 2019 - Haus der Archäologien (Hörsaal), Am Bergbaumuserum 31, 44791 Bochum

13:30 to 13:40



13:40 to 14:00


Yiu-Kang Hsu & Peter Thomas, Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum

14:00 to 14:45

Conditions for the diffusion of technical innovations

Valentine Roux, French National Centre for Scientific Research

14:45 to 15:30

Across the Thread of Time: Innovation and Transmission of Traditional Weaving Technologies in the Asia-Pacific Region

Christopher D. Buckley, Independent Researcher, UK

15:30 to 16:15

Invisible Innovations in East African Iron Production

Louise Iles, University of Sheffield

16:15 to 16:30

Coffee Break

16:30 to 17:15

Panel Discussion

Christopher D. Buckley (Independent Researcher, UK)
Louise Iles (University of Sheffield)
Mark Pearce (University of Nottingham)
Valentine Roux (French National Centre for Scientific Research)
Constance von Rüden (Ruhr-University Bochum)
Thomas Stöllner (Deutsches Bergbau-Museaum & Ruhr-University Bochum)

Moderation: Yiu-Kang Hsu & Peter Thomas  
(Deutsches Bergbau-Museum)

17:15 to 18:00

Open Discussion

Questions and comments from the local audience.

after 18:00


Snack & Chat open to all participants

Discussion panel

Maria Ivanova-Bieg

Mark Pearce
Prehistoric Archaeologist 
University of Nottingham

Iza Romanowska

Constance von Rüden
Prehistoric Archaeologist
Ruhr-University Bochum

Michael Roos

Thomas Stöllner
Mining Archaeologist
Ruhr-University Bochum
Deutsches Bergbau-Museum

Organising Committee

"Resources in Society" (ReSoc) is a Leibniz founded cooperative project of the Deutsches Bergbau-Museum and the Ruhr-Universität Bochum.

Maja Gori

Yiu-Kang Hsu completed his doctoral degree in archaeological science at the University of Oxford in 2016. His thesis investigated the dynamics of metal supplies in prehistoric Eurasian steppe during the Bronze and Early Iron Ages. His research areas include modern day China, Mongolia, Siberia, and Kazakhstan. He is particularly keen to explore the chemistry of ancient copper-alloy artefacts and use it as a proxy to discuss human engagement with metal. A wide range of instrumental techniques is employed to serve this purpose, such as electron microscopy, X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, and mass spectrometry. Dr Hsu is now a postdoctoral researcher at the DBM, working for the ReSoc project (Resources in Ancient Society). His current interest lies in the development of metallurgy in ancient Mongolia and North China, and the interaction between mobile pastoralists and settled agriculturalists.

Yiu-Kang Hsu, Deutsches Bergbau-Museum
Frederik Schaff

Peter Thomas studierte Vor- und Frühgeschichte am Vorgeschichtlichen Seminar der Philipps-Universität Marburg. Die Magisterarbeit behandelte die Holzfunde aus dem prähistorischen Bergbau des Arthurstollens im Mitterberger Gebiet. Die Promotion widmete sich den bronzezeitlichen Bergbauhölzern im gesamten Mitterberger Gebiet. Seitdem arbeitet Peter Thomas hauptsächlich an der Umsetzung eines Forschungsprojektes zum Altbergbau in Transsilvanien mit Schwerpunkt auf den vorrömischen Epochen.

Peter Thomas, Deutsches Bergbau-Museum
Mining Archaeologist

Abstract References

Cunningham, J. 2009. Ethnoarchaeology beyond correlates. Journal of Ethnoarchaeology 1 (2): 115–136.

Lyons & Casey. 2016. It’s a material world: the critical and on-going value of ethnoarchaeology in understanding variation, change and materiality. World Archaeology 48:5: 609–627.

Roux, V. 2007. Ethnoarchaeology: a non historical science of reference necessary for interpreting the past. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 14(2): 153–178.

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