CERAMIC PRODUCTION AND SPECIALIZATION

Pottery was often mentioned at the 1985 CNRS-NSF conference on «The Evolution of Cultural Complexity in Southwest Iran ». Many participants clearly considered ceramics useful both as chronological « index fossils » and as evidence for such phenomena and processes as exchange and craft specialization. Much that was implicit concer¬ned the relation of craft specialization to other social and political developments. The following brief comments focus on a few aspects of this near-universal craft that have interested archaeologists. They are based largely on archaeologically-oriented accounts of contemporary traditional potters (1).
Unlike some other artisans, potters ordinarily create utilitarian objects; pottery is virtually ubi¬quitous in many archaeological settings. Ethnogra-phically, ceramic production involves men, women, and children, in a variety and combination of tasks; it is often organized at the household level, and it often takes place in residential contexts (2).
Pottery-making is often intimately bound up with the agricultural calendar (access to clays associated with arable land may be impeded by both agrarian schedules and cycles of precipitation; agricultural labor and ceramic production are usually seasonal and are often in complementary distribution). A number of studies describe potters who are landless or have only limited rights to arable land; in at least some cases, the evolution of the craft may have been related to alienation from some basic means of production (3).
Some archaeological discussions of ceramic spe¬cialization distinguish between « full-time » and « part-time » production. In ethnographic contexts, measures of this aspect of « specialization » might include numbers of person-hours devoted to ceramic production in a year; numbers of, or weight of, vessels produced in a year; number and/or distance and/or diversity of customers in given units of time and/or space. However, it is not entirely clear how such a distinction can be measured objectively by archaeologists (nor whether it has real theoretical significance or analytical utility) : questions of rele¬vance and of operationalization remain.
Some treatments of specialization focus on stan¬dardization, and ways to measure it. Most discus¬sions rely either on presence/absence of the so-called « fast » wheel, or on decorative treatment. The pivoted wheel allows faster production of certain forms; it may also facilitate the creation of forms not easily made in a mold, with coils or slabs, or on a manually operated turntable. Ethnographi-cally, wheel-thrown pottery is associated with male potters. Identification of production techniques continues to be a subject for ongoing investigation and refinement (4), and the linkage of such variables as building techniques, potters' sex, and time devo¬ted to the craft cannot be assumed.
Even in settings where pottery is thrown by full-time male craftsmen, a single vessel can be the work of multiple « authors », some of whom may be women. Larger households may more often be associated with multiple authorship. Regardless, household size and composition may prove impor¬tant factors in the development of specialized pot¬tery production, since larger households can facili¬tate more efficient use of time and resources, and result in greater output. The matter of multiple authorship relates to the identification of potters both as individuals and as members of kin or other corporate groups that interest archaeologists (5). Some potters mark their wares to distinguish their work from vessels made by others with whom they fire jointly; others use customers' marks to identify their targets. Some potters' marks identify kin groups rather than single individuals (6), and some are made in circumstances involving multiple au¬thorship. In any case, potters around the world generally have no difficulty in identifying their own work, and they are often adept at recognizing that of peers and neighbors. One wonders, then, for whom and for what purpose(s) potters' marks were made in antiquity (7).
One measure of specialization, standardization, is often treated as synonymous with the absence of diversity (8) and sometimes viewed as reflecting state meddling or control. In contrast, diversity (9) is sometimes viewed as reflecting comparatively grea¬ter inter-group interaction (homogeneity being pre¬sumed to reflect comparatively little social interac¬tion, as in limited post-marital residential mobility among potters) (10). Marital and residential patterns, on the one hand, and interaction between craftsmen and economic and political institutions on the other, may affect both standardization and diversity in a variety of complex ways. Standardization, in the context of centralization of production, is rarely (if ever) considered in relation to potters' social organi¬zation or residence patterns, yet these cannot be totally unrelated phenomena. Ceramic diversity within and among communities of craftsmen may, additionally, result from potters' dividing up a market to minimize competition and ensure consu¬mer demand. Within settlements, diversity can also vary with context : vessels in urban potter's homes, for example, may be less varied in form, decora¬tion (11), or raw material, than those in shops of urban vendors or homes of their customers.
Specialization in ceramic manufacture may go hand in hand with control by potters (or others) of critical resources (particularly clays and fuels), and/or product distribution. Scale of production, which might be transformed into a useful archaeolo¬gical measure of degree of specialization, could be viewed in terms of (for example) distance (of sources used and vessels transported) or volume produced, or both; in a pre-industrial or non-capitalist eco¬nomy, these might reflect centralization of control of production. As archaeologists, we obviously require information about transport networks and techno¬logy (roads, availability of wheeled vehicles or domesticated pack animals, boats, etc.), which can affect directionality, shape, and size of distribution areas. In addition, we should consider the distribu¬tion and volume of particular types (some are more easily transported than others, and over greater distances), as well as differing types made of the same clays (as a potential clue to specialization.among producers whose wares may be found in the same centers).

(7) Cf. DOLLFUS and ENCREVE, 1982.
(8) PEEBLES and KUS, 1977; RICE, 1984.
(9) Diversity can of course be expressed — and measured — along any number of axes : paste, technique(s) of construction, form, volume, surface treatment, number of production steps, etc. Those variables selected as appropriate measures will to some extent depend on the specific question(s) asked.
(10) Cf. PLOG, 1980.
(11) Surface treatment, including type and location of deco¬ration, is often related to vessel form, which in turn is related to vessel function. Sherds and complete vessels may thus be of different value in exploring differing questions.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
ARNOLD D.E.
1975 Ceramic Ecology of the Ayacucho Basin, Peru :
Implications for Prehistory. Current Anthropology,
16 : 183-194.
1985 Ceramic Theory and Cultural Process. New York,
Cambridge : University Press.
BALFET H.
1981 Production and Distribution of Pottery in the
Maghreb. In : HOWARD H. and MORRIS E.L.
(eds.). Production and Distribution : a Ceramic
Viewpoint. B.A.R., Int. ser., 120 : 257-269. Oxford :
BAR
BEHURA N.K.
1978 Peasant Potters of Orissa. Delhi : Sterling Publish-
ers.
(12) Cf. KRAMER, 1983.
DAVID N. and HENNIG H.
1972 The Ethnography of Pottery : a Fulant Case Seen in
Archaeological Perspective. McCaleb Modules in Anthropology, 21. Reading, Mass. : Addison-Wesley.
DEBOER W. and LATH RAP D.
1979 The Making and Breaking of Shipibo-Conibo Ce-
ramics. /// : KRAMER C. (ed.). Eihnoarchaeology : Implications of Ethnography for Archaeology: 102-138. New York : Columbia University.
DOLLFUS G. et ENCREVE P.
1982 Marques sur poteries dans la Susiane du Vc mille-
naire. Reflexions et Comparaisons. Paleorient, 8 :
107-115.
GRAVES M.W.
1981 Eihnoarchaeology of Kalinga Ceramic Design. Uni-
versity of Arizona : Ph.D. Diss.
HARD1N M.
1977 Individual Style in San Jose Pottery Painting : the
Role of Deliberate Choice. In : HILL J.N. and GUNN J. (eds). The Individual in Prehistory: 109-136. New York : Academic Press.
HILL J.N.
1970 Broken K. Pueblo : Prehistoric Social Organization
in the American Southwest. Anthropological Papers of the University of Arizona, 18. University of Arizona Press.
1977 Individual variability in Ceramics and the style of
Prehistoric Social Organization. In : HILL J.N. and GUNN J. (eds.). The Individual in prehistory. 55-108. New-York : Academic Press.
KLEINBERG J.
1979 Kinship and Economic Growth : Pottery Production
in a Japanese Village. University of Michigan :
Ph.D. dissertation.
KRAMER C.
1983 Spatial Organization in Contemporary Southwest
Asian Villages and Archaeological Sampling. In :
YOUNG T.C. Jr, SMITH P.E.L. and MORTEN-
SEN P. (eds.). The Hilly Flanks and Beyond : Essays
on the Prehistory of Southwestern Asia. Studies in
Ancient Oriental Civilization, 36 : 348-368. Chicago :
University of Chicago.
1985 Ceramic ethnoarchaeology. Annual Review of An-
thropology, 14 : 77-102.
LONGACRE W.A.
1970 Archaeology as Anthropology : a Case Study. An-
thropological Papers of the University of Arizona, 17. Tucson : University of Arizona Press.
1981 Kalinga Pottery, an Ethnoarchaeological Study. In :
HODDER I., ISAAC G. and HAMMOND N. (eds). Pattern of the Past: 49-66. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press.

MATSON F.K., (ed).
1965 Ceramics and Man. Viking Fund Publications in
Anthropology, 41. New York : Wenner Gren Foun¬dation for Anthropological Research.
NELSON B.A., (ed.)
1985 Decoding Prehistoric Ceramics. Carbondale : South-
ern Illinois University Press.
PEACOCK D.P.S.
1982 Pottery in the Roman World : an Ethnoarchaeologi-
cal Approach. London : Longman.
PEEBLES C. and KUS S.
1977 Some archaeological Correlates of Ranked Societies.
American Antiquity, 42 : 421-448.
PLOG S.
1980 Stylistic Variation in Prehistoric Ceramics. Cam¬
bridge : Cambridge University Press.
RICE P.M.
1984 The Archaeological Study of Specialized Pottery
Production : Some Aspects of Method and Theory. //; : RICE P.M. (ed.) Pots and Potters : Current Approaches in Ceramic Archaeology. Institute of Archaeology Monograph, XXIV : 45-54. Los Ange¬les : University of California.
RYE OS.
1981 Pottery Technology : Principles and Reconstruction.
Manuals on Archaeology, 4. Washington D.C. Ta¬
raxacum.
RYE O.S. and EVANS C.
1976 Traditional Pottery Techniques of Pakistan : Field
and Laboratory Studies. Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology, 21. Washington D.C. : Smithso¬nian Institution.
STANISLAWSKI M. and STANILAWSKI B.
1978 Hopi and Hopi-Tewa Ceramic Tradition Networks.
In : HODDER I. The Spatial Organisation of
Culture. 61-76. Pittsburgh : University of Pittsburgh
Press.
VAN DER LEEUW S.E. and PRITCHARD A.C, (eds.).
1984 The Many Dimensions of Pottery : Ceramics in
Archaeology and Anthropology. A.E. Van Giffen
Institute for Pre-and Prolo-history, Cingula, VII.
Amsterdam : University of Amsterdam.
VANDIVER P.
1985 Sequential Slab Construction : a Near Eastern Pot¬
tery Production Technology 8000-3000 B.C. Massa¬
chusetts Institute of Technology : Ph.D. diss.



(1) See among others ARNOLD, 1985; KRAMER, 1985;
MATSON, 1965; NELSON, 1985; PEACOCK, 1982; VAN DER
LEEUW and PRITCHARD, 1984.
(2) See for example BALFET, 1981; BEHURA, 1978; DAVID and HENNIG, 1972; DEBOER and LATHRAP, 1979; KLEIN-BERG, 1979; LONGACRE, 1981; RYE and EVANS, 1976.
(3) Cf. ARNOLD, 1975.
(4) RYE, 1981; VANDIVER, 1985.
(5) Cf. GRAVES, 1981; HARDIN, 1977; HILL, 1970; LON¬GACRE, 1970.
(6) STANISLAWSKI and STANISLAWSKI, 1978.


Diversity of forms and of clays may vary with settlements' functional sizes; if archaeologists are interested in such matters, they must develop appro¬priate sampling strategies. Similarly, if we wish to establish the existence of craft specialists, we should sample as wide a range of localities and of sites as possible. Rural potters often create and fire vessels in, or adjacent to, their residences; urban potters often work at home (sometimes on their roofs) but sometimes fire at some distance, though not necessa¬rily outside the city. Potters are often localized in quarters within settlements; in some ethnographi-cally reported cases, these are at settlement peri¬pheries (to minimize smoke nuisance to neighbors). Like other potentially offensive but economically, culturally, and ultimately, archaeologically signifi¬cant activities (e.g., tanning, garbage disposal, mortuary treatment) potters' work is sometimes carried out beyond settlements. Yet archaeologists tend to survey and excavate recognizable sites, often only their centers, and our trenches are often too scattered and small to expose entire houses, or to pinpoint significant occupational differences among the occupants of those houses (12). Evidence for kilns from prehistoric and early historic southwes¬tern Iran is most salutary, therefore, but the presence of kilns need not mean that ceramic production did not go on in other locations as well. The spatial organization of production, as well as the variety of productive strategies and the differential distribution of finished products, should inform on the evolution of this specialized craft and on craftsmen's articu¬lation with higher-order institutions.

 
Carol KRAMER
Department of Anthropology,
Lehman College,
City University of New York

Other FAQs

Ceramic Chemistry Basics - Formula

Ceramic Chemistry Basics - Formula

Ceramic Materials Overview

Ceramic Materials Overview

Discovering distinction of Vinh Long ceramics

Where is Vinh Long Ceramics ?

Nguyên liệu và sản phẩm

Nguyên liệu và sản phẩm nào thường được dùng trong sản xuất gốm sứ?

Bạn biêt gì về quy trình sản xuất gốm sứ?

Quy trình sản xuất gốm sứ

Gốm Bát Tràng

 Bạn biết gì về gốm sứ Bát Tràng?

Sơ lược về gốm

Bạn biết gì về gốm ?