People and Things: A Performance-Based Theory

In this book, we set forth a theoretical framework and offer case studies that serve as a guide in addressing the relationships between people and things. More specifically, the theory permits an understanding of the choices people make in inventing, developing, replicating, adopting, and using their technologies. A wide arc of factors, from utilitarian to social or religious, can affect these choices. Thus, our theoretical model provides the means to understand how people, past or present, negotiate these myriad factors throughout the life history of their material goods (for which we use terms such as artifacts, technology, and material culture more or less synonymously).

In this chapter, we furnish a general outline of the theoretical model’s components, over 20 years in the making, including life history/behavioral chain, activities and interactions, technical choices, and performance characteristics. This is followed by a discussion, in Chap. 2, of how the theoretical model resembles but also differs from other archaeological models for understanding technological behavior, i.e., technological variability and change. Particular attention is paid to the “French school,” selectionism, and approaches that employ agency and practice.


Material Culture Thermal Shock Resistance Visual Performance Technological Choice Technical Choice 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

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