With lancets through the practical turn

On the interplay between humans and things from an archaeological perspective

Published: 2011-01-01 | DOI: 10.54799/DFDR5021


The function and the meaning of lancets, a key-type of the Late Nordic Bronze Age, have long puzzled archaeologists resulting in an ongoing and often controversial discussion. However, the actual handling of lancets has rarely been addressed. In accordance with the practical turn in cultural studies, this article examines the interrelationship between humans and things while proposing a model for symmetrically describing these and their connections within social practices. Materiality, Eigensinn, and affordance of things need to be correlated with knowledge, fitness and skills of humans. Following this, the article discusses the potential benefits as well as the limitations resulting from such an approach. Lancets are ›unruly‹ things. While their potential use can be outlined with regard to their affordance and Eigensinn, their almost exclusively use proven in the archaeological record is as part of grave depositions. Due to the very limited physical capabilities of lancets teamed with their almost boundless ability to convey or to be imbued with various meanings, they may well be used as icons. For praxeological examinations, the artefact category of lancets proves unsuitable in the end. The application of a praxeological perspective inevitably challenges existing classifications. Rather than focussing on the intentions of production this approach takes into account the actual handling of things. Furthermore, along with source criticism new questions and unnoticed problems are being raised. The crucial point is that this approach leads us to a better understanding of the complex relationships between humans and things.

How to Cite

Hofmann, Kerstin P., and Stefan Schreiber. 2011. “With Lancets through the Practical Turn: On the Interplay Between Humans and Things from an Archaeological Perspective”. EAZ – Ethnographisch-Archaeologische Zeitschrift 52 (2):163-87. https://doi.org/10.54799/DFDR5021.
EAZ Cover Issue 2/2011, 52. Volume
EAZ Cover Issue 2/2011, 52. Volume
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