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Martin Fitzenreiter, “Technology and Culture in Pharaonic Egypt”

Martin Fitzenreiter, Technology and Culture in Pharaonic Egypt. Actor Network Theory and the Archaeology of Things and People (Ancient Egypt in Context 11)

The inherent paradox of Egyptology is that the objective of its study – people living in Egypt in Pharaonic times – are never the direct object of its studies. Egyptology, as well as archaeology in general, approach ancient lives through material (and sometimes immaterial) remains. This Element explores how, through the interplay of things and people – of non-human actants and human actors – Pharaonic material culture is shaped. In turn, it asks how, through this interplay, Pharaonic culture as an epistemic entity is created: an epistemic entity which conserves and transmits even the lives and deaths of ancient people. Drawing upon aspects of Actor Network Theory, this Element introduces an approach to see technique as the interaction of people and things, and technology as the reflection of these networks of entanglement.