What a Difference Structure Makes: Material Styles of Syrian Caliciform Ware Identified through Ceramic Petrography

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

Sarah R. Graff [+-]
Arizona State University
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Sarah R. Graff is an anthropological archaeologist who received her Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of Chicago in 2006. She is a Senior Honors Faculty Fellow at Barrett, The Honors College within Arizona State University, where she is also affiliated with the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, and with the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict. Dr. Graff’s research examines economy, cross-cultural exchange, and political authority in the context of ancient urbanism in the Middle East. Methodologically, she examines the material style of ceramic containers, as well as their exchange and consumption, with ceramic petrography and complementary techniques. She also examines commensality and food preparation practices in context as a means to explore social relationships and economic life.

Description

Ceramic petrography makes it possible to investigate the chaîne opératoire, or series of actions and choices made during the production process of ceramic artifacts. Such structural analysis can help identify different material styles in ceramic groups that may have previously been seen as homogeneous. Using a case study from northwestern Syria, this chapter explores how ceramic petrography can move beyond typologies and provenience and begin to answer questions about specific economic practices, such as state control over the production of ceramic containers. During the late third millennium BC in northwestern Syria, the state of Ebla was powerful and had connections to other political and economic centers in the region. One type of ceramic container that is a marker for this period, and is directly associated with the state of Ebla, is called the Caliciform Ware cup. Many archaeologists characterize this ware as standardized and mass produced across the extent of the Ebla state. Ceramic petrography of painted Caliciform Ware from the Ghab, located within the territory of the Ebla state, indicates non-standardized production, despite the homogenous forms and decorative patterns. This study emphasizes the need to study ceramic structures across the political landscape in detail to fully understand processes of production and what that means for questions of state control.

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Citation

Graff, Sarah. What a Difference Structure Makes: Material Styles of Syrian Caliciform Ware Identified through Ceramic Petrography. Searching for Structure in Pottery Analysis - Applying Multiple Scales and Instruments to Production. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Apr 2021. ISBN 9781781790533. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=28558. Date accessed: 11 Jul 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.28558. Apr 2021

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