The Structure of Ceramic Analysis: Multiple Scales and Instruments in the Analysis of Pottery Production

Renewing the Search for Structure - New Frameworks and Techniques in Instrumental Ceramics Analysis - Alan F. Greene

Alan F. Greene [+-]
Stanford University
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Dr. Alan F. Greene is a postdoctoral scholar in archaeological science at the Stanford University Department of Anthropology and the Stanford Archaeology Center. His research focuses on the relationship between everyday aspects of the material economy like ceramic containers, and the macro-scale political-economic parameters of emergent complex polities in the Bronze Age South Caucasus. Alan specializes in the biographical anthropology of objects as well as compositional and structural methods of materials analysis, tracing artifacts through habitual production regimes, spheres of exchange, and consumption trends in ancient societies. Alan is a co-director of the Making of Ancient Eurasia (MAE) project, an analytical collaboration between anthropologists and material scientists at Argonne National Laboratory (http://mae.uchicago.edu).
Charles W. Hartley [+-]
University of Chicago
Charles W. Hartley is a Ph.D. candidate in anthropological archaeology at the University of Chicago. His dissertation “Community, Pottery, and Political Culture: Crafting the state in the Luoyang Basin, North China, 3000–1500 BCE” investigates the role pottery, as a class of political (material) culture, plays in the development of solidarity and identity amongst communities in and around the Luoyang Basin with the florescence of the Erlitou polity that marks the end of the Neolithic in China. Charles is particularly interested in the role of techniques as markers, often unintentionally, of communal or factional affiliations, and the role such “everyday” objects play in building political coalitions and consensus. Charles is a co-director of the Making of Ancient Eurasia (MAE) project, an analytical collaboration between anthropologists and material scientists at Argonne National Laboratory (http://mae.uchicago.edu).

Description

This introduction to the volume examines of how the essential distinction in ceramic investigation between “structural” and “compositional” data has historically provided a framework for situating various analyses, a guiding heuristic distinction as the analytical capabilities for the detection and interpretation of pottery attributes have expanded. It traces the co-development of these approaches and their related analytical instrumentations in the early to mid-twentieth century, as well as their gradually diverging trajectories from the latter part of the century to today. In contrast to studies relying solely on compositional attributes, the introduction outlines an integrated approach that combines elemental data with information pertaining to paste preparation, formation, decoration, and firing techniques in an anthropological effort to delineate the socioeconomic aspects of particular pottery industries. The authors argue that the inclusion of “structural” data are indispensable to forming a systematic understanding of ceramic production across geographies, political economies, and artistic traditions. Drawing on their work with the MAE (Making of Ancient Eurasia) Project, they review how multi-scalar digital radiographic analysis has influenced their thinking about both ceramic structure and composition and then demonstrate how the macro- and micro-scale variation revealed in ceramic fabrics and formation techniques has led them to call into question the treatment of structure and composition as two discrete domains of analytical characterization. Instead, a perspective that views each of these evidentiary domains as deeply entangled perspectives on the practice of ancient pottery and pottery making is presented. As a general introduction, this chapter also situates the volume within current research on ceramics more generally, and the multi-scalar structural analysis of ceramics in particular, crystalizing several lines of recent scholarly interest. Finally, the essay provides a roadmap for the book, noting the various conceptual threads that run through different contributions and pointing the reader towards critical points of convergence and departure from “conventional wisdom” in our understanding of pottery analysis.

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Citation

Greene, Alan F. ; Hartley, Charles W. . The Structure of Ceramic Analysis: Multiple Scales and Instruments in the Analysis of Pottery Production. Renewing the Search for Structure - New Frameworks and Techniques in Instrumental Ceramics Analysis. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Jan 2021. ISBN 9781781790533. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=24648. Date accessed: 21 Sep 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.24648. Jan 2021

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