(Ceramic) Structure and (Communities of) Practice in the Bronze Age Black Sea

Searching for Structure in Pottery Analysis - Applying Multiple Scales and Instruments to Production - Alan F. Greene

Alexander A. Bauer [+-]
City University of New York
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Alexander A. Bauer is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His research interests include trade and interaction, ceramic technology, the semiotics of material culture, and archaeological ethics, and is focused primarily on the Bronze Age of the greater Near East. He currently serves as Associate Director of the Sinop Regional Archaeological Project (SRAP), Turkey, where he has worked since 1997, and his publications include Social Archaeologies of Trade and Exchange (Left Coast Press, 2010), and New Directions in Museum Ethics (Routledge, 2012). He has also served as the Editor of the International Journal of Cultural Property since 2005.


Multi-dimensional and multi-scalar analyses of ceramic structure can yield important information about the manufacturing processes employed in their production. The identification of such practices have allowed archaeologists to make inferences about the technological and social choices people in the past may have made in producing material culture, and how those choices may have acted as statements of both individual and group identity. Within such analysis, the concept of “communities of practice, originally developed as a theory of social learning, may be particularly helpful for understanding the formation of community identities through craft production. Using a chaîne opératoire approach informed by the concept of “communities of practice,” this chapter presents the results of a nested analytical study of prehistoric pottery-making practices from several communities along the Black Sea coast in order to interpret the emergence of shared pottery traditions across the region. This analysis suggests that from the end of the 4th to the early 3rd millennium BC a distinct and shared “Black Sea culture” developed across the region as a result of increased social interaction and in response to larger, interregional dynamics. This case illustrates how the integration of multi-scalar technological practice analysis with theories of craft production can identify patterns of social relations and identity in the past.

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Bauer, Alexander A. . (Ceramic) Structure and (Communities of) Practice in the Bronze Age Black Sea. Searching for Structure in Pottery Analysis - Applying Multiple Scales and Instruments to Production. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Feb 2022. ISBN 9781781790533. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=24656. Date accessed: 21 Oct 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.24656. Feb 2022

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