Dr. James Skibo, professor of Anthropology, delivered a paper at a conference/workshop in Paris, France on January 26-28. The conference, Discontinuities and Continuities: Theories, Methods and Proxies For a Historical and Sociological Approach to the Evolution of Past Societies, included scholars from France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel, and the United States. “The primary purpose of the conference was to gather an international group of archaeologists who work in a variety of places and time periods to consider the processes of technological, social and cultural change,” said Skibo. “How and why people and their artifacts change are the core questions of archaeology.”
On Friday, January 28, Skibo gave a presentation at the conference titled “The Adoption of Pottery in the Eastern United States: A Performance Based Approach.” Skibo explains, “The Performance Based Approach is a theory for understanding technological change that I, along with several of my colleagues, have developed. The theory, which has most recently been discussed in my book, People and Things, can be applied to any artifact or technology but I have been most interested in pottery. And one of my long-term interests has been the adoption of pottery world-wide, which is an important technological change.”
Skibo said he gained a valuable experience from the conference. “The conference included many of the leading figures in archaeology but most of them focus on the European Paleolithic Period, which is a field of study outside my area of interest,” he said. “So one of the most important aspects of the conference was that it brought together archaeologists who work in very different parts of the world and in different time periods. Despite these differences, we all share an interest in developing the method and theory to better understand human and technological change in prehistory. “
Even though the conference is over, this is not the end of the international collaboration. “The plan is to work up our papers into a published volume, so we are all busy revising our contributions based on what we learned during our several day conference,” Skibo said.