vessels were first made by prehistoric peoples over 15,000 years
ago and pottery is one of the most common types of artifact found
at recent archaeological sites in many parts of the world.
well-preserved, ceramics can be a potent source of information about
the past. Even small fragments of pots can be studied by archaeologists
to determine how ancient pots were made and used. More importantly,
archaeologists can also also use ceramics to help date sites, and
to reconstruct patterns of prehistoric economy, social organization
and cultural contact across a region.
Prehistoric Puzzles Ceramic study site introduces several aspects
of ceramic artifact analysis that are important for archaeologists.
Variation: Pot designs vary from region to region, and change
through time. What can archaeologists learn from this?
Technology & Function: How are pots made and used in Africa
today, and how can archaeologists find evidence of ancient pottery
manufacturing and use?
Attributes: How can pots be described and how do archaeologists
reconstruct the attributes of whole pots from the small fragments
preserved at sites?
Classification: How and why do archaeologists classify potsherds
from a site into "types"?
Assemblages: How do archaeologists analyze collections of
ceramics from a site, and compare such assemblages between sites?
What are the goals of such comparative study?