Humans, by utilizing and engaging with their natural surroundings, shape their environment and are shaped by it in turn. They are in constant interaction with their physical surroundings and engage all their senses doing so. Studying our ancestors’ use of and interaction with their physical environment allows us to learn something about their past activities. Since the majority of human ancestry takes place in prehistory, the only way for us to learn about the past is through analysis of material traces resulting from past human activities. It is therefore not possible to understand human prehistory or history without taking past human surroundings and materiality into consideration. Throughout our past, human-environment interactions resulted in the creation of material culture. However, in some cases mere focus on humans is not sufficient for a successful interpretation of past human activity, rather humans may be understood as a connective tissue.
This research group focuses on past human materiality to gain insight into, and develop knowledge about our past. The group will contribute to the discussions, research, and dissemination of studies investigating the human past through available material traces from human interaction with their environment. The group will provide a forum for work-in-progress seminars and the development of ideas as well as possible theoretical and methodical applications. Most importantly, it will provide a venue for students and staff to discuss their relevant work and ideas, regardless of geographical location or time period.