Directions in Ceramic Research

  • Carla M. Sinopoli


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.


Material Culture Archaeological Data Ceramic Production Archaeological Context Archaeological Assemblage 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carla M. Sinopoli
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Wisconsin-MilwaukeeMilwaukeeUSA

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