What does material culture do for the mind? How is human thought built into and executed through things? It is now been widely recognised that in ways that we have yet to fully understand, material culture shapes the manner in which people act, perceive and think. The understanding of the cognitive efficacy of past and present material culture becomes one of the most challenging research topics not simply for the archaeology and anthropology of human cognition but for the general field of the cognitive and social sciences. This volume, through a series of innovative theoretical papers and empirical case studies ranging from prehistory to the present, attempts to develop such a cross-disciplinary understanding and to offer some future directions of research. The main objective is to readdress the balance of the cognitive equation as presently conceived by bringing materiality into the cognitive fold. But how do we integrate material culture into existing theories of human cognition? How do we best approach the diachronic influence and evocative potential of things in the development of human intelligence? Contributors argue, from different disciplinary perspectives, for the need to expand the boundaries of mind beyond the individual in order to accommodate broader cognitive phenomena that include interactions among people, artefacts, space, and time.
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Lambros Malafouris is a former Balzan Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Cognitive Archaeology at the McDonald Institute, Cambridge University. Colin Renfrew is a Senior Fellow of the McDonald Institute and Emeritus Disney Professor of Archaeology in the University of Cambridge.
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