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The Dialogue with Skills in the OpenArch Project

Compiled by Rüdiger Kelm (DE) and
Alessia Pelillo (IT)

In the framework of the OpenArch-Project seven different workpackages, where two partners worked on a bilateral cooperation, have been developed. Workpackage 4 is “The dialogue with skills” and was coordinated by the Museum of Modena (Italy) and the Archaeological-Ecological Centre Albersdorf (Germany).

This workpackage focuses on the people that do demonstrations of traditional skills such as metalworking, textile working, pottery making, woodworking etc. The WP 4-partners organised four specialist workshops for this target group, which were combined with the joint seminars of the OpenArch-project. The workshops were realized at the partner institutions in Modena (2012), Archeon (2013), Albersdorf (2013) and Kierikki (2014); they all focused on the archaeological and natural environment, the techniques, the craftspersons themselves, the interaction between crafts and also on intangible aspects of the crafts (f. e. stories). Due to the scientific background and because of their public interest and effects on presenting (pre-)history, this WP had close relations with both WP 5 (The Dialogue with Science/Experimental Archaeology) and with WP 3 (The Dialogue with the visitor).

Besides the genuine WP4-workshops there were also other activities and experiments about traditional skills at the different partner museums. 

A compilation of some of the handicraft and skills activities with their experiences and results has been made with this “Guideline Manual”. Because of its “digital character” there will be additions and more reports in the manual  in the future.

We like to thank all partners for their friendly and giving cooperation and for contributing to this report.

We hope that a lot of colleagues at other institutions will have some use for this work and will be inspired to try out their own traditional skills in a practical way and rejuvenate.

Dr. Rüdiger Kelm and Alessia Pelillo, Albersdorf/Modena, spring 2015   

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Experience with Building Mesolithic Huts in the Stone Age Park Dithmarschen in 2014

Werner Pfeifer (DE)
OpenArch Dialogue with Skills Issue
***Two new huts in the Stone Age Park Dithmarschen in Albersdorf (Germany) were built in spring 2014 by the Experimental Archaeologist and Educator Werner Pfeifer with the support of some friends and with financial support from the Stone Age Park Dihmarschen and the EU co-financed project OpenArch.

Experiencing Visible and Invisible Metal Casting Techniques in the Bronze Age Italy

M. Barbieri,
C. Cavazzuti,
L. Pellegrini and
F. Scacchetti (IT)
OpenArch Dialogue with Skills Issue
***What we know about Bronze Age metalworking in Italy basically relies on finished artefacts and on stone, clay or bronze implements involved in the process of manufacturing (tuyères, crucibles, moulds, hammers, chisels, et cetera; Bianchi, 2010; Bianchi, in press).

Knapping Skill Assessment

Bruce Bradley (UK) and
Nada Khreisheh (USA)
OpenArch Dialogue with Skills Issue
***This article is derived from a presentation made by the senior author at the OpenArch Conference "Working with stones in European Pre- and Proto-history in theory and in practice" organised by the Archaeological-Ecological Centre Albersdorf (DE), 23-27 September, 2013.

Field Trials in Neolithic Woodworking – (Re)Learning to Use Early Neolithic Stone Adzes

R. Elburg,
W. Hein,
A. Probst and
P. Walter (DE)
OpenArch Dialogue with Skills Issue
***Excavations of several Early Neolithic wells with excellent preservation of the wooden lining in the past years have made clear that Stone Age woodworking already attained a very high level of perfection. This poses the question how it was possible to execute this type of work with the means available at that time...

Making wine like Iberians: a learning experience with the international workcamp at La Ciutadella Ibèrica of Calafell

M. Gómez,
J. Pou and
O. Saura (CAT)
OpenArch Dialogue with Skills Issue
***The Youth Department of the Autonomous Government of Catalonia organises international summer workcamps in the region. In the framework of the 2014 workcamp, our proposal was to focus work on one of the aspects of the Iberian culture that has been more investigated lately: the production of wine...

“Living in the Neolithic” – Impressions from the Experimental Archaeology Days of the University of Hamburg in Albersdorf in summer 2014

Tosca Friedrich and
Birte Meller (DE)
OpenArch Dialogue with Skills Issue
***During the summer of 2014 more than 30 students from the Archaeological Institute of the University of Hamburg and four children participated in the practical archaeology week at the Stone Age Village in the Stone Age Park in Albersdorf...

Food Workshop in Archeon at OpenArch conference 2013

Rüdiger Kelm (DE)
OpenArch Dialogue with Skills Issue
***Food and drink are basic needs for every human being. From the perspective of our modern culinary practices, with all its specialities and customs, the traditional cuisines, and especially the pre- and protohistoric dishes, seem not only very far away, but also very primitive and have a negative connotation...

Reconstructing a Prehistoric Fish Trap

E. IJsveld (NL)
OpenArch Dialogue with Skills Issue
***Fish traps, still in use all over the world today for catching fish and crustaceans, have been used by mankind at least since the Mesolithic period. Their shape at that time is quite well-established, suggesting that they may have originated even earlier. This type of fish trap is made up of two elements...

120 Years of Strategies and Experiences in Educational and Handicraft Skills

Rüdiger Kelm (DE)
OpenArch Dialogue with Skills Issue
***One aim of the five year EU-funded Culture Project OpenArch is to encourage cooperation between archaeological open-air museums in Europe and ethnological open-air museums who have a long history of presenting and handicraft to the public in practical ways...