Lecture by Dr. Stephanie Aulsebrook at PAIA

On May 19, 2023, at the headquarters of the Polish Archaeological Institute at Athens, a lecture by Dr. Stephanie Aulsebrook (University of Warsaw) was held entitled: “Investigating the Role of Metal at Late Bronze Age Mycenae”. Dr. Stephanie Aulsebrook presented elements of her ongoing research project ‘Forging Society at Late Bronze Age Mycenae: the Relationships between People and Metals’, funded by the Polish National Science Centre. She began by discussing the challenges faced when conducting a holistic analysis of metal usage in a past society, and how new avenues for investigation into social practice can be opened up by embedding contextual analysis and the ‘object biography’ approach into patterns of intra-site distribution. Her main case study, based on the 1962 excavation season at Citadel House, demonstrated how metal artefacts were being integrated into multi-material assemblages based around different activities. She then went on to discuss three unusual phenomena visible in the settlement archaeology that differed from traditional narratives of Mycenaean metal usage: the re-use (rather than recycling) of metal fragments, the ‘upcycling’ of metal and the deliberate discard of metal as rubbish. She ended by explaining how, thus far, her research had not uncovered evidence to support the use of metal fragments as a form of proto-currency, and that further research and theorisation of this process was required for the Greek mainland. The lecture elicited a number of wide-ranging questions from the audience, prompting discussions of the meaning of ‘scrap’ in prehistory, the possibility of adjusting artefact production to suit different target markets and the difficulties of managing the impact of temporal change in the type of evidence sources available from Mycenae.

Dr. Stephanie Aulsebrook was accompanied by two UW students participating in the research: Monika Łapińska and Paulina Jurkowska. The lecture attracted a large audience. It was attended by members of several other foreign schools in Greece, who also actively participated in the discussion that took place after the presentation.

photo: Beata Kukiel-Vraila