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Explaining Shell-Tempered Pottery in Prehistoric Eastern North America

  • James K. Feathers
Article

Explanations for the rise in frequency of shell-tempered pottery in the Eastern United States have vacillated between historical and functional accounts. Using evolutionary theory, the historical records of first appearance and diffusion are woven with physical properties of shell-tempered pottery that may have led to its selection. An appreciation of the scale at which change occurs and the units of analysis most appropriate for understanding that change is necessary for an explanation that can account for the widespread use of shell-tempering and the more-or-less coincident rise in its frequency. A hypothesis with empirical consequences is offered as a starting point for understanding this phenomenon.

KEY WORDS:

shell-tempered pottery evolutionary explanations units of analysis firing strategies Eastern United States 

Notes

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Some of the research reported in this paper was funded through a fellowship to the former Conservation Analytical Laboratory, Smithsonian Institution. Several individuals there assisted in the project, including my supervisor, Pamela Vandiver. Luminescence dating results were made possible by the National Science Foundation. Leopold May and the Catholic University of America donated time in the Mössbauer study. Other work was performed at the University of Washington through the Departments of Materials Science, Civil Engineering and Anthropology. William D. Scott, professor of Materials Science, assisted with the mechanical tests. Archaeological materials were provided by Robert C. Dunnell, who also leant intellectual guidance and labored through several earlier versions. Robert Leonard and Lee Lyman provided valuable comments.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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