Tine Schenck

Department: Archaeology
Discipline: Archaeology

Project Summary

Accessing Intangible Technology through Experimental Archaeology. A methodological study.


The hypothesis of my PhD thesis is that archaeological experiments with aspects of existing and recovered material culture can provide a constructive entry into obscured, immaterial parts of the archaeological record. A set of archaeological experiments will be carried out in order to examine if viable statements can be made about intangible structures relating to technologies of the past, structures that are otherwise invisible to us today. 

The study is set against a backdrop of philosophical pragmatism and abductive reasoning, semeiotics and consensual knowledge. Within the analysis, case experiments operating under chaîne opératoire and social agency approaches will highlight how intangible information can be and should be uncovered through experimental archaeology. The justification of experimental archaeology as an entry point into the intangible aspects of technologies is found within the grounding provided by the archaeological remains themselves. It is postulated in the thesis project that explanation and interpretation should be sought corroborated with archaeological methods and theories, rather than non-archaeological, extra-discoursial approaches such as ethnographical analogy or sociological theory.

The study aims to prove that archaeological experiments are particularly valuable tools for archaeologists researching prehistoric technologies within their own discourse, and that they can contribute artefactual grounding to information that is otherwise often generated through mental constructs and (il)logical operations alone.

Supervisory Team

Professor Alan K. Outram (Theory of Experimental Archaeology and Knowledge)

Professor Bruce Bradley (Experimental practice)

Wider Research Interests

Experimental methodology in Archaeology; Archaeological Theory; Philosophy of Science; Sociology of Knowledge and Epistemology; Sociology of Archaeology; Chaîne opératoire and technological choices; Traduction of skill and knowledge; Hunter-/gatherer societies and seasonality.

Authored Publications/Reports

Groom, P., Schenck, T. and G. MoƩll Pedersen (2013) Experimental explorations into the aceramic dry distillation of Betula pubescens (downy birch) bark tar, Archaeological and Anthropological Science, 2013, 1:12 (DOI: 10.1007/s12520-013-0144-5)