Material Is the Mother of Innovation

  • Maikel H. G. KuijpersEmail author


This contribution looks at the future of craft through the lens of archaeology. Exploring the role of craft and skill in the long-term development of human societies, I use this knowledge to frame an answer to the question ‘what future developments may happen through craft?’ Through the example of bronze—a novel material that ushered the Bronze Age—I show how the affordances of a material may guide thinking, and affect worldviews. Bronze helped formulate notions of design, copying, and recycling. From this, I advocate that we should look at craft as a heuristic device, rather than categorically. Materials are a source of innovations, and it is through craft that these innovations are brought about.


Archaeology Economic anthropology Bronze age 



I would like to thank Anna Mignosa for her kind invitation to write a chapter for this book, at a very late stage in the process. She convinced me saying that she likes to be academically ‘contaminated’, which to my mind sounds far more exciting than disciplinary purity. Arjo Klamer is thanked for inviting me to the Values of Craft symposium in Rotterdam. This chapter benefitted from a workshop in Leiden under the same title. Thanks to all the participants of these meetings. Some special thanks are needed for a few people always willing to help, even when it is very late notice. Catalin Popa, Ulrika Botzojorns, Nienke Broekema, and David Fontijn made sure that the chapter was written coherently, despite the slight rush to get it finished on time. Any errors and incoherency left are my doing. Financial support came from the project ‘Economies of Destruction. The Emergence of Metalwork Deposition during the Bronze Age in Northwest Europe, C. 2300-1500BC.’, funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO project number: 277-60-001).


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

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