Using Pottery to Decode The Past
What Is Ceramic Typology
Ceramic typology encompasses analytical techniques used in material culture study with the aim to provide information concerning ceramic technology of past societies (Santacreu 2014, 2). Studying ceramics allows for an understanding of how past societies conceptualize produce use maintain exchange and deposit their pottery. Advancements in fields like chemical and mineralogical analysis have benefited the ceramic typology. Using interdisciplinary techniques archaeologists can create a better representation of past societies pottery. Another benefit of studying ceramics is it can be analyzed both in qualitative in quantitative means.
Archaeologists analyze and describe shapes, color, textures, mineral composition, and decoration of pottery vessels (Santacreu 2014, 125). They use this information to conduct analysis is focused on social and cultural processes. It attempts to understand the complex relationships existing between ceramics as a cultural product and the natural environment. This viewpoint sees ceramics styles and form as an adaptation to the environment rather than social factors (Santacreu 2014, 130). Pottery can be related to cultural patterns which are often specific to each culture. However, the basic function of pottery types, for example, cups, plates, bowls, jars, and cooking pots, lead to similar forms across the world.
Pottery production is separated into two categories function and use
Function- is the purpose they perform based on the Potters intentions
Use- how the vessel is used every day
Although function and use are closely tied, they are not determinants of each other.
Why Can Ceramics Be Helpful?
Archaeologists look at soil composition in local variability. Material composition is significant because pottery has different uses for decorative cooking container. Therefore, the makeup of the ceramic can lead us to conclusions about what it was used for. Also, soil composition and region variants can inform the archaeologists if the pottery was made locally or traded. Determining if the ceramic is not comprised of local soil variance can aid in understanding the living culture. For example, was this population involved in a vast trade network? Has the group migrated? Do they accept foreign people into their culture? Pottery styles that are prevalent in one area may be hard to come by in another. Therefore, wealthy individuals are more likely to have foreign pottery styles because they can afford to have them transported. So, obtaining foreign pottery is a signal to wealth and status.
The presence of certain soil indicates with space management in many societies there is a close spatial connection between settlements and mineral sources (Santacreu 2014, 137). Typically, ceramic products are created using local clays and temper material. Temper is a regional variant. Once the potter receives their material, they remove impurities by running water through the clay. This process eliminates unsuitable sediment from the working clay. Clays from central Mexico can be more difficult to chemically analyze due to a regional runoff of parent rock. Therefore, it creates obstacles when determining regional origins.
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