Directions in Ceramic Research
Ceramics are among the most common classes of artifacts recovered in many archaeological contexts. Because of this, we rely on ceramics to answer many of the questions we wish to ask about the human past. The relations between ceramic variability and these questions—on political, social, economic, or ideological organization and change—are not always obvious or straightforward. In many cases, other classes of material culture might be more suited to approaching such questions. For example, clothing styles, tattoos, and other perishable media of expression would probably be more useful than ceramics in many contexts for considering questions of social organization and the definition and expression of social boundaries. Goods with high political and economic significance may be more subject to administrative control in early states than domestic ceramic vessels. Yet ceramics are often what archaeologists have to work with. Although they may not be suited to all questions, careful work within a logical theoretical framework can enable us to use ceramics to answer a broad range of questions that go beyond the construction of traditional typologies, chronologies, and the identification of broad culture areas.
KeywordsMaterial Culture Archaeological Data Ceramic Production Archaeological Context Archaeological Assemblage
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