From Material Remains to Culture: The Possibilities and Limits of Archaeology in Reconstructing Ancient People

  • Viviana ArdesiaEmail author


The paper elaborates on the definition ‘a culture’ in archaeology. Following Childe’s definition, a culture is a set of remains – tools, vases, decorations, mourning rituals, dwelling styles – that are regularly associated (Childe, V. G. (1956). Piecing together the past: The interpretation of archaeological data. London: Routledge & K. Paul). But, if culture is intended as an organized structure that links together the material aspects with the social (e.g., hierarchy), religious (beliefs about preternatural) and economic (subsistence strategies) systems, then material culture becomes fragmented evidence of a culture that, once, was completely formed and effective in an ecological context. Artifacts are ‘solid behavior’, and archaeology studies the fossilized results of actions socially transmitted across individuals and across societies.


Archaeological culture Artifacts Typological classification Ancient Bronze Age Rodì-Tindari-Vallelunga culture 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CISEPS – Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Economics, Psychology and Social SciencesUniversity of Milano - BicoccaMilanItaly

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