The concept of aesthetics has long been marginalized in archaeology. It was originally formulated in the eighteenth century as part of an appreciation of Greek art and was fundamentally concerned with appreciating a quasi-universal idea of beauty; and as archaeologists and anthropologists recognized the distortion created by applying it to material from non-Western and pre-modern art, it fell into disfavour. An alternative anthropological approach pioneered by Howard Morphy regards aesthetics as the study of the affects of the physical properties of objects on the senses and the qualitative evaluation of those properties; this converges with the emerging philosophical study of ‘everyday aesthetics’. This article explores how archaeologists could apply these concepts, particularly through a study of Maltese Neolithic everyday aesthetics.
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