Session: #377

Theme & Session Format

6. Material culture studies and societies
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

A World of Clay II: From Fragments to Societies
Archaeologists have ever more tools at their disposal to study clay materials (vessels and otherwise) and past societies. For ceramics in particular, interest in chaînes opératoires has recently surged, and concepts such as use-life, craft, and entanglement provide new analytical angles onto past societies. In parallel, the third science revolution in archaeology has given new impetus to studies of mobility, kinship, social transformations, and long-term cultural dynamics.

With the wealth of new analytical tools and concepts comes the need for fundamental reflections on the methods, data, and concepts which aid us in reconstructing past societies through the lens of ceramics. Disciplines such as anthropology, history, and philosophy are key conversation partners when interpreting archaeological ceramics, and understanding the fragilities of our interpretations. Reinforcing the dialogue with these disciplines is vital, especially as the archaeological toolbox continues to expand.

In this session, we want to reflect on the methodologies, questions, and research themes in contemporary ceramic analysis. How can ceramics contribute to questions about social transformations, mobility, entanglement, cultural dynamics, and identity? We invite archaeologists, ethno-archaeologists, anthropologists, and other scholars who work with clay materials from all regions and periods to partake in a multidisciplinary dialogue on social transformations and cultural dynamics through the lens of clay materials. We wish to address such questions as:

1) How do manufacturing traditions and consumption habits reflect the sociality, mobility, and identity of human groups?

2) How can studies of crafting practices and creativity in ceramics contribute to burgeoning fields such as cognitive sciences and the history of knowledge?

3) What are future directions for the analysis of clay materials on a practical and theoretical level, especially in the age of polymers and metal?
Ceramics, Clay materials, Cultural dynamics, Social transformations, Archaeology and Anthropology, Material culture studies
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Main organiser:
Erik Kroon (Netherlands) 1
Adrien Delvoye (Switzerland) 2
Pauline Debels (Switzerland) 2
Monique Arntz (United Kingdom) 3
Mathilde Jean (France) 4
1. Leiden University, Faculty of Archaeology
2. University of Geneva, Department of Genetics and Evolution
3. Cambridge University, Department of Archaeology
4. Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne