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Searching for Structure in Pottery Analysis

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Searching for Structure in Pottery Analysis addresses the theoretical and methodological imperatives involved in (re)integrating descriptive, structural, and compositional analytical methods in a series of contributions from a diverse group of experts in archaeological pottery. Drawing on the life’s work of materials scientist Cyril Stanley Smith (The Search For Structure, MIT Press, 1981), a pioneering materials scientist who brought an important focus on structure to studies of a variety of archaeological materials, the contributors focus on those forms of analysis which investigate structural characteristics of ceramics and the methodologies that link such structural characteristics with the typological and compositional data that compose the majority of evidence in contemporary ceramic analyses.

The chapters include essays organized into two sections: the first focuses on how the practices of ceramic production and the structures they generate enable inferences about the social relations between producers and consumers of pottery; and the second focuses on the role structure plays in the refraction and maintenance of different forms of social grouping and identity. These two themes serve as orienting foci for a broad set of heuristic and technical tools that have the potential to alter how archaeologists extract and identify the social information captured in the multifarious properties of pottery and transform contemporary understandings of the different roles ceramics played in past societies.

Published: Jul 26, 2022

Book Contributors


Section Chapter Authors
Front Matter
List of Figures and Tables Alan F. Greene, Charles W. Hartley
Foreword Heather Lechtman
Chapter 1
The Structure of Ceramic Analysis: Multiple Scales and Instruments in the Analysis of Production Alan F. Greene, Charles W. Hartley
Chapter 2
From Texture to Temper: A Multi-scalar Approach to Identifying Variation in Clay Preparation Strategies MaryFran Heinsch
Chapter 3
Producing Structure: The Role of Ceramic Production in Understanding Chaco-period Communities in the American Southwest Andrew Duff
Chapter 4
Ceramic Production and Society in the Late Majiayao Culture of Northwest China Michele Koons, Jade D’alpoim Guedes
Chapter 5
From Structure to Composition and Back: Digital Radiography and Computed Tomography; Some Cases for Anthropological Contemplation Charles W. Hartley, Alan F. Greene, Paula Doumani
Chapter 6
Coiling on the Wheel: The Sociopolitical Implications of a Particular Formation Technique in Bronze Age Crete Ina Berg
Chapter 7
(Ceramic) Structure and (Communities of) Practice in the Bronze Age Black Sea Alexander A. Bauer
Chapter 8
Laterality and Directionality in Pottery Painting and Coiling Kathryn MacFarland
Chapter 9
What a Difference Structure Makes: Material Styles of Syrian Caliciform Ware Identified through Ceramic Petrography Sarah Graff
Chapter 10
X-ray Fluoroscopy in Your Own Backyard: A Method for Analyzing Ceramic Formation Techniques Erin Hegberg, Philip Heintz
Chapter 11
Conclusion: A New Search for Structure Alan F. Greene, Charles W. Hartley
End Matter
Index Alan F. Greene, Charles W. Hartley

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