THE HUNTERIAN ASSOCIATES PROGRAMME

The Hunterian Associates Programme encourages post graduate students to connect with the Hunterian Museum collections in creative ways, promoting knowledge exchange, particularly  through discussion and debate with a public audience. 

Recognised as a Collection of National Significance to Scotland, The Hunterian provides an inventive platform for postgraduate researchers to share their expert knowledge and to develop their skills through meaningful public engagement and knowledge exchange activities’.(http://www.gla.ac.uk/hunterian/learning/hunterianassociates/)

Neolithic polished stone axe (and modern haft) from Dunsyre, South Lanarkshire, Scotland (Hunterian Museum Collections GLAHM B.1914.160)

Neolithic polished stone axe (and modern haft) from Dunsyre, South Lanarkshire, Scotland (Hunterian Museum Collections GLAHM B.1914.160)

This project and blog evolved from my own PhD research on Late Mesolithic and Early Neolithic Scotland. As my research progressed it became clear to me that Early Neolithic studies over the last decade have concentrated on polarised theories of ‘grand narrative’ Mesolithic-Neolithic transition, to the detriment of our understanding of Neolithic individuals as sentient human beings. Sadly the Neolithic is often reduced to a series of binary statistics where human agency is regarded as secondary to archaeological modelling. My own research, and ‘Cutting Edge Chronicles’, is diametrically opposed to this stance instead choosing to stress the importance of unorthodox approaches to Neolithic personhood and the archaeological record. As such, stone axe biographies (and the actors embedded in their stories), return to the study of those early prehistoric people we as archaeologists seek to comprehend. Polished stone axes, the quintessential Neolithic artefact of man the toolmaker, provide the ideal opportunity to highlight the social realities and daily cosmologies of invisible groups (women, children, etc) in the largely male dominated world of Neolithic academia.

 Atypical 'Neolithic man' and his  stereotypical 'Neolithic world'  (click on image to enlarge).

Atypical ‘Neolithic man’ and his stereotypical ‘Neolithic world’ (click on image to enlarge).

Significant phases of an inanimate objects life are therefore related back to it’s overall Neolithic frame of reference. Recent biographical approaches in stone axe studies have suggested that axe ‘life-cycles’ or ‘biographies’ and their meaning can also be built upon beyond prehistory as information exceeding their final deposition can be accrued up to the present day. By augmenting the prehistoric axe allegory with subsequent artefact discovery, how it changed hands between collectors and museum collections, and ultimately its journey and arrival to the Hunterian Museum, biographies can be extended by drawing new people into the narrative. Finally, and as a consequence of this project, it is hoped that artefacts which are not easily accessible to the public (being held in museum stores and not exhibited) can be viewed and discussed interactively via this social media.

 

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