What can pottery tell us? - University of Notre Dame


What can pottery tell us? - University of Notre Dame

Daily Life in Early Bronze Age

Towns: What can pottery tell


Dr. Meredith S. Chesson

Dept. of Anthropology

University of Notre Dame,


Invention of Earliest Fortified Settlements in

the Southern Levant

Early Bronze Age I - III:

3600 - 2350 B.C.E.

Intermediate Bronze / EBA IV:

2350 - 2000 B.C.E.

Southern Levant

Early Bronze Age Walled Towns: Inventing New

Types of Communities

Slab-built built Tomb

at Safi/Naqa

Early Bronze Age Transformations


aggregation in



West Gate at

Bab edh-Dhra’

Increasing social differentiation (individual

and group) seen in mortuary practices


Compound at Zeraqon

Non-residential storage facilities

Intensification of




technology, water


ownership, use,

surplus storage

and management)

Irrigated fields

on Wadi Zarqa

Why is this research important to anthropologists?

• Inventing a new type of Place:

place and identity key still


• Dawn of urbanism: tracking

the diversity of urban life

• Tracing the roots of social

differentiation: the prehistoric

foundations for the “haves”

and “have-nots”

• Seek to understand how

average people lived their daily

lives: 95% of archaeology

explores the lives of the

richest/wealthiest 5% of any


“Human ordinariness is an extraordinary accomplishment: it is

the sheer ability of humans to believe and to act.” (Robb 2007: 2)

Context as Key to Interpretation

Mortuary Contexts

Room 10(2A/2B) pit with pot

Social and

Technological Aspects

of Pottery Production

Decision-making by Potters:

•Resources (local vs. external)

•Surface Treatments




•Seasonal Tempo

Multi-scalar research: moving

from local to regional

• Potsherds connected to

People and Societies

• Ordinary Life as Crucial

Key to Understanding

the Past

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