22. Implications of Ethnoarchaeological Studies for Ancient Cookware
Gloria London [+]
We started with clay from the earth, followed by the processing, shaping, finishing, and firing of pots before their distribution to consumers, who used them to process, preserve, store, and cook food. The perspective from pot-maker to pot-user shows modifications in all aspects of manufacture: fabric composition, manufacturing technique, vessel shape, surface treatment, and firing, over seven or eight millennia. New manufacturing techniques inspired and required new tempering materials and experimentation, yet old ways did not disappear quickly or vanish entirely – especially not for round-bottomed cookware. Two resilient and practical traditions for handmade pottery that began in the Early Bronze Age, burnishing and calcite temper, eventually acquiesced to wheel-thrown pots and quartz fabrics in the Late Iron Age/Persian Period. Nevertheless, local, traditional limestone-rich fabrics remained part of the repertoire, especially for large vats and basins that were made with coils or slabs. From medieval times onward, potters resorted to the same Bronze Age practices because they provided practical solutions for local clays. All potters in the southern Levant, who built containers with coils, moulds, or slow-moving turntables, confronted the same challenges, regardless of the time period. Rather than a revival of earlier traditions or direct continuity, the persistence of calcite temper in burnished, handmade cookware represents indigenous potters responding to the intrinsic limitations of the local clays with the same ageless solutions.