Claire Finn

PhD Title

The material culture of drinking and the construction of social identity in the 17th-century Dutch Republic.

Claire Finn

PhD Abstract

The notion of a `Golden Age´ of Dutch culture is one that has been established by cultural and art historians for well over a century. The newly established Dutch Republic occupied a unique position in 17th century Europe, promoting trade, artistic and scientific advancement and wealth, as well as a nascent `Dutch´ identity. Recent work in the fields of consumption and material culture studies have shown how attitudes towards material possessions may have changed, and the part that the consumption of everyday vessels and utensils may have played in establishing identity; at republic, provincial, and personal level.

The power of objects as social and status indicators is particularly noticeable in relation to drinking vessels, primarily for alcoholic drinks. This is unsurprising given that recent archaeological studies of historical periods have emphasised the important social role played by the consumption of intoxicants. Archaeological excavation has supported this picture by revealing a common pattern of conspicuous mass consumption of drinking vessels from domestic cesspit contexts. Through a contextualised study of the excavated material culture, this research will explore how drinking and the vessels used in its consumption developed during the century following the establishment of the Republic in 1581. Unpublished, but well-dated and excavated, cess pit groups from several Dutch cities will be chosen to give a representative social range of domestic properties from across the republic. The research will examine how patterns of consumption changed across the century and region, and the extent to which the material being consumed played a part in establishing and confirming social identities.


BA (Hons) Archaeology: 1st Class (University of Sheffield 2009)

MA Material Culture Studies: (Pending) (University of Sheffield 2010)


2009 Arts and Humanities Research Council studentship for MA

2010 Arts and Humanities Research Council studentship for PhD


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