Ethnological Interpretations of Implements


Cultural-historical reconstruction, based on typologies of artefacts, played an important part in early ethnology. In this article various models of interpretation used by etnologists for this purpose are reviewed and discussed, with some German, Austrian and Swedish studies of the hayrake as the point of departure. A typological series might be used directly to reconstruct the evolution of the implement. Round 1900, German scholars explained early observations of regional differences by ascribing different rake forms to certain Germanic tribes. Some decades later Swedish ethnologists developed a diffusionist model of interpretation, based on detailed mapping of implements and other features of material culture. These "historical-geographical " studies of the hayrake are critically reviewed, some of their results are questioned and an alternative model for the interpretation of the geographical variations, based on the principles of cultural classification, is suggested.

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Stoklund, B., (1989) “Ethnological Interpretations of Implements”, Ethnologia Europaea 20(1), p.5-14. doi:


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Bjarne Stoklund (University of Copenhagen)



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