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Book: Searching for Structure in Pottery Analysis

Chapter: X-ray Fluoroscopy in Your Own Backyard: A Method for Analyzing Ceramic Formation Techniques

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.24655


Erin Hegberg and Philip Heintz use 19th century trends in the formation of New Mexican Hispanic and Pueblo ceramics to analyze the relationship between learning lineages, motor skills, and the production of social identity. While Hispanic pottery types have traditionally been treated as distinct from Pueblo wares, current understandings of the social basis of that distinction remain poor. In their essay, the authors turn the lens of structural analysis on these two types of ceramics that are often made with local clays and temper, and found at historic sites throughout the Spanish and Mexican territories. Drawing on previous research showing that formation techniques such as coiling, slab building, or molding are directly related to learning lineages and motor skills, they use medical X-ray fluoroscopy to compare the formation techniques of Hispanic and Pueblo ceramics as part of a more general analysis of social groupings and identities in Territorial New Mexico. Their results suggest that variations in Hispanic and Pueblo potting may lie at production foci other than the formation stage.

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