, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 320-356
Date: 15 Sep 2009

Residential Mobility and Ceramic Exchange: Ethnography and Archaeological Implications

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Abstract

After the appearance of agriculture and subsequent increasing population densities and agricultural intensification, some mobile hunters, foragers, and part-time horticulturalists often obtained ceramic vessels from nearby villages. Mobile groups are firmly embedded within regional patterns of interaction and exchange. Certain regional interaction patterns encourage use of vessels made by a sedentary neighbor, and the factors that would discourage it are less significant than previously believed. The vessels made by neighboring agriculturalists may often be as well suited to the tasks and settlement pattern of mobile groups as vessels made by the mobile groups themselves. Given the probable frequency with which mobile groups discarded ceramics made by a neighboring group, archaeologists should consider this scenario when interpreting ceramic frequencies in remote small sites, where some ceramics may be far from the villages in which they were apparently made. Using an archaeological case study from the Western Papaguería of the US Southwest, I propose using vessel techno-function, along with other data, to place individual sites within a broader settlement system. The settlement system, rather than diagnostic ceramic types, may be most useful for assigning these sites to particular cultural traditions and for understanding patterns of landscape use.