The human element: discerning the effects of potter’s behavior on the chemical composition of ceramics. Fowler, K. D.; Middleton, E.; and Fayek, M. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 11(1):171–198, January, 2019.
The human element: discerning the effects of potter’s behavior on the chemical composition of ceramics [link]Paper  doi  abstract   bibtex   
It has long been known that the natural variability in clays, the resources chosen by potters, and the techniques used in manufacturing all affect the chemical composition of finished pottery objects. Understanding these effects is important in pottery provenience research because it cannot be assumed that the chemical composition of the pottery is the same as the raw materials used to produce it. There are, however, few studies devoted to monitoring the effects of potter’s practices on the chemical composition of finished products relative to the raw materials used in manufacturing them. In this study, we investigate the effects that procurement strategies and processing techniques have on the chemical composition of vessels made by Zulu potters in South Africa relative to the raw materials they use in manufacturing them. Our comparative analyses included clays used for potting, sediments, pastes, finished vessels, and building clays from five communities of potters. Our results show that the effects of different procurement strategies and processing methods range from negligible (there is a close geochemical match to resources) to profound (making it exceedingly difficult to discern the geological origin of raw materials). We argue that such analyses of ethnographic materials provide insights into explaining why pottery composition varies locally, regionally, and amongst functional types of vessels; the appropriateness of certain research designs, analytical methods, and statistical analyses; and how the petrographic and geochemical study of ethnographic pottery collections should be a primary and not ancillary effort in pottery provenience research.
@article{fowler_human_2019,
	title = {The human element: discerning the effects of potter’s behavior on the chemical composition of ceramics},
	volume = {11},
	issn = {1866-9565},
	shorttitle = {The human element},
	url = {https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-017-0535-0},
	doi = {10.1007/s12520-017-0535-0},
	abstract = {It has long been known that the natural variability in clays, the resources chosen by potters, and the techniques used in manufacturing all affect the chemical composition of finished pottery objects. Understanding these effects is important in pottery provenience research because it cannot be assumed that the chemical composition of the pottery is the same as the raw materials used to produce it. There are, however, few studies devoted to monitoring the effects of potter’s practices on the chemical composition of finished products relative to the raw materials used in manufacturing them. In this study, we investigate the effects that procurement strategies and processing techniques have on the chemical composition of vessels made by Zulu potters in South Africa relative to the raw materials they use in manufacturing them. Our comparative analyses included clays used for potting, sediments, pastes, finished vessels, and building clays from five communities of potters. Our results show that the effects of different procurement strategies and processing methods range from negligible (there is a close geochemical match to resources) to profound (making it exceedingly difficult to discern the geological origin of raw materials). We argue that such analyses of ethnographic materials provide insights into explaining why pottery composition varies locally, regionally, and amongst functional types of vessels; the appropriateness of certain research designs, analytical methods, and statistical analyses; and how the petrographic and geochemical study of ethnographic pottery collections should be a primary and not ancillary effort in pottery provenience research.},
	language = {en},
	number = {1},
	urldate = {2019-01-11TZ},
	journal = {Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences},
	author = {Fowler, Kent D. and Middleton, Emma and Fayek, Mostafa},
	month = jan,
	year = {2019},
	keywords = {Ceramic manufacture, Ceramic technology, Chemical composition, Ethnoarchaeology, Ethnomineralogy, South Africa},
	pages = {171--198}
}
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