Michael Chazan will give a Brown Bag Lunch presentation on Thursday, February 4, at 12:15 pm. His talk is entitled “The Reality of Artifacts: An Archaeological Perspective.”

Artifacts are not an “add on” to humanity but rather an integral part of the context within which we became, and become, human. That these objects are at one and the same time material—and thus part of the physical world—and cultural presents a fundamental analytical challenge. It is this realm of artifacts stretching back over 2.5 million years that makes up a major component of archaeological research. This project uses an archaeological perspective to consider the nature of artifacts, arguing that artifacts are not a “type” of object but rather a status of objects when they are brought into human experience. The definition of artifact as a status opens questions about the relations of artifacts to the mind, to the body, as well as the limits and the potential autonomy of artifacts. This talk will present the basic argument for artifact as a status and then will focus on what recent research on early stone tools tells us about the cognitive engagement involved in artifact manufacture and use. The talk will draw on Chazan’s research at the site of Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa.

Michael Chazan is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto and coordinator of the Material Culture Program at Victoria College, University of Toronto. He is the author of The Reality of Artifacts: An Archaeological Perspective and World Prehistory and Archaeology: Pathways Through Time, both published by Routledge. He has carried out fieldwork in the Middle East and South Africa and currently co-directs the Wonderwerk Cave Research Project, Northern Cape Province, South Africa.

This event will be held via Zoom. A link will be circulated to registrants by 10 am on the day of the event.