Joanna Sofaer
  • Department of Archaeology
    University of Southampton
    Avenue Campus
    Highfield
    Southampton
    SO17 1BF
    UK
  • Dr Joanna Sofaer is Professor of Archaeology in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Southampton. She g... moreedit
Studies of creativity frequently focus on the modern era yet creativity has always been part of human history. This book explores how creativity was expressed through the medium of clay in the Bronze Age in the Carpathian Basin. Although... more
Studies of creativity frequently focus on the modern era yet creativity has always been part of human history. This book explores how creativity was expressed through the medium of clay in the Bronze Age in the Carpathian Basin. Although metal is one of the defining characteristics of Bronze Age Europe, in the Carpathian Basin clay was the dominant material in many areas of life. Here the daily experience of people was, therefore, much more likely to be related to clay than bronze. Through eight thematic essays, this book considers a series of different facets of creativity. Each essay combines a broad range of theoretical insights with a specific case study of ceramic forms, sites or individual objects. This innovative volume is the first to focus on creativity in the Bronze Age and offers new insights into the rich and complex archaeology of the Carpathian Basin.
An evaluative study assessing the impact, leverage, and effectiveness of CinBA, a HERA funded research project, which brought together archaeology researchers, contemporary craft artists and students, and heritage institutions and their... more
An evaluative study assessing the impact, leverage, and effectiveness of CinBA, a HERA funded research project, which brought together archaeology researchers, contemporary craft artists and students, and heritage institutions and their users.
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Joanna Sofaer, Lise Bender Jørgensen and Alice Choyke, 2013: Craft Production: Ceramics, Textiles and Bone. In: A. Harding and H. Fokkens (ed.), Oxford Handbook of the Bronze Age. Oxford: Oxford University, 469-492.
Research Interests:
Interpretations of tells have traditionally been linked to questions about the relationships between different types of sites. It is usually assumed that tells had the highest rank and most central role within a regional settlement... more
Interpretations of tells have traditionally been linked to questions about the relationships between different types of sites. It is usually assumed that tells had the highest rank and most central role within a regional settlement hierarchy. The tell-building regions in Bronze Age Europe do indeed provide evidence of a particular settlement system, one in which there must have been various kinds of differentiations between the settlements. This much is unambiguous and generally agreed upon. It is not clear, however, what these differences meant. Nor is it obvious how to reach data-informed interpretations of the socio-political as well as economic dimensions of the co-existence of such diverse forms. The differences between various sites would have affected how people lived within them. They would also have informed fundamental aspects of life such as how people related to each other, their sense of generational time, and notions of belonging within a particular place. The core question about the nature of the relationships between these sites remains, however, as challenging and as unanswerable as ever. Sufficiently fine-grained comparative data from the range of sites, from small one-layered households to the densely settled long-duration tells, are still missing from our archaeological ‘data reservoir’.
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Concha bullosa is hypertrophy of the middle nasal concha attributable to its pneumatisation. It is considered to be the most common anatomical variant of the ostiomeatal complex, but it has been little studied in skeletal populations. It... more
Concha bullosa is hypertrophy of the middle nasal concha attributable to its pneumatisation. It is considered to be the most common anatomical variant of the ostiomeatal complex, but it has been little studied in skeletal populations. It is uncertain whether the prevalence of concha bullosa varies in different world populations. Some have suggested that it predisposes to sinusitis, but this is controversial. The aim of the current work is to assess the prevalence of concha bullosa in a pre-modern population and to investigate whether it is associated with maxillary sinusitis. Results showed that concha bullosa was present in 17 out of 45 individuals, a prevalence of 38%. There was no evidence of an association with sinusitis. This adds to a growing body of evidence that calls into question concha bullosa as a significant risk factor for sinus disease.
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The HERA-funded project Creativity and Craft Production in Middle and Late Bronze Age Europe (CinBA) (www.cinba.net) ran from 2010-2013. It was one of 9 international projects supported within the HERA1 ‘Creativity’ theme. Twenty... more
The HERA-funded project Creativity and Craft Production in Middle and Late Bronze Age Europe (CinBA) (www.cinba.net) ran from 2010-2013. It was one of 9 international projects supported within the HERA1 ‘Creativity’ theme.

Twenty months on from the official project end, this report assesses the post-project impact of CinBA. It revisits project academic and non-academic partners and collaborators to report on impact in terms of the project’s effectiveness, international scope, persistence and leverage. Knowledge exchange was embedded in CinBA research from the start. Through a reflection on the ‘CinBA experience’, this report provides robust evidence for the value of humanities research and offers insights into the CinBA model of knowledge exchange (KE).

Led by Dr Joanna Sofaer at the University of Southampton, CinBA brought together academic partners from the Universities of Southampton, Cambridge and Trondheim, the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb, National Museum of Denmark, the Natural History Museum of Vienna, and non-academic partners Lejre Archaeological Park (Sagnlandet) and the Crafts Council.
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At the same time as we assume creativity as embedded in human history, it is unclear how we locate, explore and analyse creativity. The explicit aim of this conference is to engage with this challenge. We will discuss creativity through a... more
At the same time as we assume creativity as embedded in human history, it is unclear how we locate, explore and analyse creativity. The explicit aim of this conference is to engage with this challenge. We will discuss creativity through a focus on its outcomes - in this case material culture - and through an exploration of creative practice. The European Bronze Age provides an interesting focus for discussions of the outcomes of creativity because in this period we see the development of new and pre-existing materials that we take for granted today. We also see new ways of working with them, accompanied by the growth of technical skill, to produce complex forms and elaborate decorated surfaces. This conference will explore how viewing these through the lens of creativity has the potential to offer fresh insights into the interaction between people and the world. An understanding of creativity further demands that we examine the processes that lie behind creative expression. To consider this, the conference will explore how the distant Bronze Age may be able to act as a stimulus and inspiration for creative practice in the present.

Speakers will include: Prof. Lise Bender Jørgensen (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Archaeology and Religious Studies), Dr Karina Grömer (Natural History Museum, Vienna), Prof. Tim Ingold (Department of Anthropology, University of Aberdeen), Prof. Janis Jefferies (Department of Computing, Goldsmith’s University of London), Dr Flemming Kaul (National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen), Dr Joanna Sofaer (Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton), Dr Marie Louise Stig Sørensen (Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge), Prof. Bengt Molander (Dept. of Philosophy, Norwegian University of Science and Technology), Dr David Fontijn (Faculty of Archaeology, University of Leiden), Dr Julian Stair (potter and academic, University of Westminster), Dr Alex Gibson (Archaeological and Environmental Sciences, University of Bradford).
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This paper explores developing trends in pottery making during the Middle and Late Bronze Age in the Middle and Lower Danube regions by investigating the role of bird-shaped and bird-ornamented ceramic objects. The range of such objects... more
This paper explores developing trends in pottery making during the Middle and Late Bronze Age in the Middle and Lower Danube regions by investigating the role of bird-shaped and bird-ornamented ceramic objects. The range of such objects varies both morphologically (vessels, figurines, rattles) and contextually (settlements, graves), which, together with the bird imagery crafted in other materials, points at the significance of bird symbolism in Bronze Age society. Their wide distribution reflects shared ideas present across large areas of Europe with possible roots in the Bronze Age belief system, but the details of their production often varied in accordance with the nuances of the regional ceramic styles.
By creating a bird-shaped object, a potter would face a number of choices, which deviate from those routinely offered by the bulk of her/his work. These might include the body-shaping techniques, the degree of stylisation/naturalism in form and decoration, particular ways in which the defining anatomical features were formed/depicted, etc. This study demonstrates how the emphasis on bird forms and symbolism in their broader ceramic environment illuminates both the creative process involved and the performance related role of the objects in their cultural contexts.
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