Creativity is a much valued commodity in modern-day society. We are all encouraged to unleash our creativity. It seems that to be creative is to be human. What does this creativity tell us about ourselves as individuals? What does it say about the society we live in? The European Bronze Age is an epoque of Prehistory where a blossoming of craft occurred, reflected by the production of beautiful and elaborate objects. The diversity of materials used and effects achieved is a testimony to the creative endeavours of highly skilled craftspeople. What can this variation and the underlying processes that facilitate it tell us about the people of the past that we are so desperate to understand? How does the individual mediate and transform social discourse? Furthermore how can the exploration of creativity in the past aid our understanding of contemporary creativity?
As part of the CinBA project (see below) my research explores creativity in the manufacture of Bronze Age urns from Serbia. Through isolation of technological originality and novelty within design, I am exploring the role of the individual in mediating and transforming social discourse.
Creativity and Craft Production in Middle and Late Bronze Age Europe (CinBA) brings together partners from the Universities of Southampton, Cambridge and Trondheim, the National Museum of Denmark, the Natural History Museum of Vienna, Zagreb Archaeological Museum, Lejre Archaeological Park (Sagnlandet) and the Crafts Council. It offers important insights into the fundamental nature of creativity by exploring a part of European history not influenced by contemporary concepts of art – the Bronze Age – looking at developments in crafts that we take for granted today: pottery, textiles and metalwork. It investigates objects as a means to understand local and transnational creative activities, investigating the development of decorative motifs and the techniques and skill used for these. It tracks these developments over more than a millennium within regions forming a north-south axis across Europe: Scandinavia, Central Europe and the Adriatic. In addition, links between ancient and modern creativity are explored through contemporary engagements with Bronze Age objects by modern craftspeople and the public.
CinBA is funded through HERA – Humanities in the European Research Area. HERA aims to strengthen the European voice in the Humanities by coordinating research activities and transcending historical limitations to develop new Europe-wide research agendas. CinBA is one of 9 HERA-funded projects on the theme of ‘Creativity’.