African Archaeological Review

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 21–37 | Cite as

Iron Age ceramic studies in Great Lakes eastern Africa: a critical and historiographical review

  • Kearsley A. Stewart


The influence of Merrick Posnansky's work on the development of Iron Age Great Lakes ceramic studies is traced and an historiographical analysis of the published material of associated African, American, Belgian and British Iron Age Africanist archaeologists is offered. The article examines the methodologies and concepts employed by archaeologists from the 1950s to the present, as they defined the chronological, classificatory, regional and stylistic boundaries of Urewe and rouletted pottery. Particular attention is paid to the influence of American, British and Belgian worldviews on Iron Age research priorities and consequent disparities between Early Iron Age and Later Iron Age studies. Also examined are conclusions about the ethnic identities of the makers of the ceramic material and the significance of the shift from Urewe to rouletted pottery. The paper concludes with some alternative explanations about the relative scarcity of Early Iron Age ceramics and the swift but widely dispersed introduction of rouletted pottery.


Ceramic Material Cultural Study Ethnic Identity Great Lake Relative Scarcity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Cet article retrace l'influence du travail de Merrick Posnansky sur le développment des études sur la céramique de l'âge de fer dans la région des grands lacs et présente une analyse historiographique des documents publiés par des archéologues africains, américains, belges et britanniques spécialisés dans l'âge de fer en Afrique. Cet article examine les méthodologies et les concepts utilisés par ces archéologues, des années 50 à maintenant, pour leur définition des limites chronologiques, classificatoires, régionales et stylistiques de la céramique d'Urewe et de la céramique décorée à la roulette. Il accorde une attention spéciale à l'influence des points de vue américains, britanniques et belges sur les priorités de la recherche sur l'âge de fer et les différences qui en découlent entre les études sur le début et sur la fin de cette période. Cet article examine également des conclusions sur les identités ethniques des fabricants de céramique et la signification du passage de la poterie d'Urewe à la poterie décorée à la roulette. Il conclut en donnant de nouvelles explications possibles sur la relative pénurie du début de l'âge de fer et l'introduction rapide mais largement disséminée de la poterie décorée à la roulette.


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© Cambridge University Press 1993

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  • Kearsley A. Stewart

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