Deborah Olausson, Helle Vandkilde. From, Function & Context. Material culture studies in Scandinavian archaeology. Acta Archaeologica Lundensia. Series in 8°, No. 31. Lund, Sweden 2000. 307 page, ill.
The central concept of context - defined as the totality of relationships material culture enters - is of determining importance. Whereas material culture may be summarised as a carrier of cultural identity, the context is the creator of form and function. Exploring the context and accessing the Information that hides at the interface between form and context hold a vast potential for future archaeology. Since context is by nature culturally and socially changeable and since material culture has an ability to survive contextual shifts and to travel from one context into another, function and meaning are highly mobile attributes of material culture. They are, in fact, constantly in transit, and every recontextualisation will tend to provoke an identity transformation. Material objects and monuments thus possess social lives and histories with a succession of different identities.
The 21 articles in the book are based on papers given at a Nordic Symposium held in 1997. They discuss the concepts of form, function and context from a variety of perspectives and using a wide ränge of examples, from the Mesolithic in Norway to the Iron Age in eastern Sweden. While the examples are mostly taken from Scandinavian archaeological contexts, two articles look at architectural styles in Malmö and bronzecasting in Nepal. The authors comprise archaeologists from Denmark, Norway and Sweden.