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Title: Improvise, adapt, and overcome : the archaeology of material transformation in conflict
Author: Shottenkirk, B. A.
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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Evidence of individual decision-making and how the subsequently implemented actions may contribute to long-term material change are largely absent from the archaeological record. Indeed, due to a paucity of clearly associated artefacts, few archaeological studies attempt to explore the role, or even the reality, of how individual decisions and actions may impact macro-scale change. This dissertation addresses this deficiency and examines specific artefacts created within the context of a historical conflict to investigate both the practical implications and theoretical considerations of micro-scale action. Framed within the historical context of the First World War, this research offers both practical implications and theoretical considerations. Although the archaeological study of conflict has traditionally focused on varied aspects of martial artefacts - to include architecture, battlefield surveys, and weapon and armour typology - the chaotic nature of warfare nonetheless provides a unique resource to consider both the role of the individual and the transmission of new cultural knowledge and skill-sets. The data-set is composed of exigent matériel fabricated by soldiers of the British Empire who sought to supplement non-existent or otherwise unsuitable martial resources that were already a part of their inventory. By examining these selected artefacts and their associated background information in detail, this research provides clear evidence on how individuals adapt and transform material to affect their immediate environment through innovative, self-directed, and purposeful action. This practical micro-scale insight of Agency theory integrates with an assessment of how different mechanisms of transmission combine with real world factors to influence the macro-scale propagation of new knowledge and designs in a pragmatic analysis of Cultural Transmission theory. In conclusion, this research promotes a unique approach to conflict archaeology while raising awareness of the wider call for Agency and Cultural Transmission theory to provide micro-scale to macro-scale interaction in real world situations and contexts.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available