Session: #496

Theme & Session Format

5. Assembling archaeological theory and the archaeological sciences
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

A World of Clay I: Widening Analytical Horizons
Pottery production should not be studied in isolation. As studies focus on ceramic production as a craft, we come face to face with the full diversity of clay materials: from figurines to architecture, from medicine to soils. A diversity which is mirrored by the myriad of specialisms dedicated to the study of clay materials.

Yet, many commonalities and interdependencies existed between techniques and activities associated with the utilisation of different clay materials at any given time in the past. As such, specialists who work with these materials often use similar, but slightly different analytical concepts and techniques.

For example, a key concept such as chaîne opératoire is well-established in ceramic analysis, but less so in the analysis of figurines. Petrography is a good example of a method which is widely used for the analysis of many different clay materials, but in slightly different manners for each. Subtle differences also exist between research traditions, such as between Francophone and Anglophone analyses of ceramics: with more attention for technical know-how and creating an empirico-inductive model in the former, and understanding social dynamics through an hypothetico-deductive model in the latter.

In this session, we take a holistic stance towards clay materials. Our aim is to draw upon the wealth of analytical concepts and techniques which exists within the various specialisms of ‘clay material studies’. We welcome papers on all possible clay materials, regardless of region or period, analytical or theoretical. We encourage prospective speakers to delve into the methodologies and concepts employed in their analyses, and to actively engage in discussions with researchers from other fields. Clay material studies is a rich and varied field of research, with ample opportunity for cross-fertilisation and multi-disciplinary enrichment.
Clay materials, Ceramics, Theoretical approaches, Analytical techniques, Interdisciplinary methodology
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
Session associated with SAfA:
Session associated with CAA:
Session associated with DGUF:
Session associated with other:


Main organiser:
Monique Arntz (Netherlands) 1
Thomas Delbey (United Kingdom) 2
Mathilde Jean (France) 3
Adrien Delvoye (Switzerland) 4
Erik Kroon (Netherlands) 5
1. University of Cambridge, Department of Archaeology
2. Cranfield University, Cranfield Forensic Institute
3. Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
4. University of Geneva, Department of Genetics and Evolution
5. Leiden University, Faculty of Archaeology