Material Studies

Research into the material culture of past societies can take many directions, from art historical studies of classical sculpture and painting through to the painstaking statistical analysis of pottery sherds or pollen grains.

Photograph of broken stonework in Umm-Qays

Whatever the research area, the rewards are often a richer understanding of our past, whether that be through a more comprehensive understanding of trade patterns through time, developing technological approaches to the creation of artefacts or a deeper understanding of how material culture has been used by different societies in the past, for example in burial practices.

Working with material culture can often inform, and be informed by, the work of our colleagues in Classics and Ancient History and in Byzantine Studies, as in the case of numismatic studies for example on the Barber Institute coin collection, or the Eton Myers Collection of Egyptian Artefacts. One of our greatest challenges is aiding in the study of the spectacular Staffordshire Hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold, an exceptional find of international significance.