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Standardization is a Charade (and that’s ok)

Date and Time: 
Friday, October 25, 2019. 12:30 PM - 01:30 PM
Meeting Location: 
Building 110, Room 112
Workshop: 
Standardization in Ancient Economies
Meeting Description: 

Dr. Robert Schon will share his research on ancient standardization and its relationship to technology and performance. Traditionally, scholars take for granted that standardization is a technological innovation. However, the close examination of archaeological remains reveals that it is rarely achieved in anything but the most illusory fashion. Dr. Shon's research takes a different approach, emphasizing standardization as performance rather than technology. Presenting case studies of weights (the quintessential standardized artifact type) from the Bronze Age Aegean, he argues that standardized measurement serves the purpose of reducing transaction costs by, among other things, promoting trust among its participants, and helping to create communities of practice at a regional scale. These goals are primarily achieved because of the way that weighing is performed and only secondarily via any degree of accuracy or precision in the weights themselves.

Robert Schon is an associate professor of archaeology in the School of Anthropology and in the Department of Religious Studies & Classics at the University of Arizona, where he is also the associate director of the School of Anthropology. He received his PhD in classical and Near Eastern archaeology from Bryn Mawr College and began his postdoctoral career at Stanford in the IHUM program. His research includes statecraft in the Bronze Age Aegean, landscape archaeology in Sicily, and the archaeology of baseball in southeastern Arizona. He is the Director of the Excavations at Warren Ballpark (the oldest continuously used baseball field in the United States) and co-director (with Emma Blake) of the Arizona Sicily Project, a diachronic archaeological survey in southwestern Sicily.

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