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The Importance of British Material Culture to Historical Archaeologies of the Nineteenth Century

0 Comments 🕔14.Jul 2016

The Importance of British Material Culture to Historical Archaeologies of the Nineteenth Century, edited by Alasdair Brooks (University of Nebraska Press, 2016).

Britain was the industrial and political powerhouse of the nineteenth century—the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and the center of the largest empire of the time. With its broad imperial reach—and even broader indirect influence—Britain had a major impact on nineteenth-century material culture worldwide. Because British manufactured goods were widespread in British colonies and beyond, a more nuanced understanding of those goods can enhance the archaeological study of the people who used them far beyond Britain’s shores. However, until recently archaeologists have given relatively little attention to such goods in Britain itself, thereby missing what is often revealing and useful contextual information for historical archaeologists working in countries where British goods were consumed while also leaving significant portions of Britain’s own archaeological record poorly understood.
The Importance of British Material Culture to Historical Archaeologies of the Nineteenth Century helps fill these gaps, through case studies demonstrating the importance and meaning of mass-produced material culture in Britain from the birth of the Industrial Revolution (mid-1700s) to early World War II. By examining many disparate items—such as ceramics made for export, various goods related to food culture, Scottish land documents, and artifacts of death—these studies enrich both an understanding of Britain itself and the many places it influenced during the height of its international power.

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