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Book: Searching for Structure in Pottery Analysis

Chapter: Foreword

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.28554


Renewing the ‘Search for Structure’ 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.

Chapter Contributors

  • Heather Lechtman ([email protected] - hlechtman) 'Massachusetts Institute of Technology'