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African Archaeological Review

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 225–248 | Cite as

Sherds of a Kingdom: Historical Pottery of the Lake Tana Region (Northern Ethiopia)

  • Jorge de Torres Rodríguez
Original Article

Abstract

Although the Gondärine period of Ethiopian history is relatively well-known due to local and foreign historical texts, and the architectural remains of the Solomonic dynasty, little is known about the material culture of the communities who inhabited the core area of this kingdom between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. This paper deals with the historical pottery documented in the Lake Tana region, summarizing the results of a nine-year project in the area of Gondär and linking it with materials from nearby areas. A comprehensive study of the ceramic remains has been undertaken with a combination of ethnographic, written, and archaeological sources, providing a first chronological and typological framework for this pottery, and some hints about the reasons for the changes detected throughout time related to the consolidation of a centralized Ethiopian monarchy in the mid-sixteenth century.

Keywords

Pottery Historical archaeology Jesuits Lake Tana Gondärine kingdom 

Résumé

Bien que la période Gondärienne de l'histoire éthiopienne est relativement bien connue grâce aux textes historiques locaux et étrangers et les vestiges architecturaux de la dynastie salomonienne, on en sait peu sur la culture matérielle des communautés qui ont habité la zone centrale de ce royaume entre les 16èmes et 18èmes siècles. Cet article traite de la poterie historique documenté dans la région du lac Tana, résumant les résultats d'un projet de neuf ans dans la région de Gondär et en les reliant avec des matériaux provenant des zones voisines. Une étude approfondie des restes de céramique a été entreprise avec la combinaison de sources ethnographiques, écrites et archéologiques, pour fournir un premier cadre chronologique et typologique pour cette poterie, et quelques indications sur les raisons des changements détectés à travers le temps, liées à la consolidation d'une monarchie centralisée éthiopienne depuis le milieu du 16ème siècle.

Notes

Acknowledgements

This work has been possible thanks to the funding of the Institute of Spanish Cultural Heritage, through the International Excavations Program, and research permission from the ARCCH (Authority for the Research and Conservation of the Cultural Heritage), Ethiopia. The author would like to thank the reviewers for their comments and suggestions which have substantially improved and enriched the article, and Víctor M. Fernández Martínez for his support and valuable comments on this study. Thanks to Eduardo Martínez Agúndez for providing the digital version of his cartography for this article and Andreu Martínez d’Alòs-Moner for his help with the transcription from Amharic. Any mistakes, of course, remain my own.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Africa, Oceania and the AmericasThe British MuseumLondonUK

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