ATH 242-01

*** TWO VIDEOS: Flint knapping, Robinson Ransbottom Pottery


  • Objects modeled or modeled from clay
  • pottery, bricks, figurines, musical instruments
  • POTTERY: most often used for cooking, transporting and storing of foods, liquids, other materials
  • introduced to Ohio less than 3000 years ago
  • sherd: a fragment of pottery

Pottery production

  • gather suitable clay
  • knead the clay (to remove air bubbles)
  • add temper (non-plastic material added to the clay to give it addt’l strength during molding & firing)
  • grog: ground-up scraps of pottery re-used as temper
  • temper type can be used to date pottery
  • coiling – common production method
    • form base
    • add coils
    • cordmark the coils
    • allow to dry to leather-hardness
    • add neck & rim
    • open firing, open-air firing
  • Molding: pressing clay into a mold to form a vessel
    • use a shallow pit in the ground, broken base of another pot, wooden mold, etc
  • wheel throwing: rotating clay on a wheel and using hands of toools as a barrier to the outward thrust of the clay
    • a more modern method suited for mass production

Pottery production: secondary techniques

  • after vessel is formed, addt’l techniques may be used fo rdecoration
  • incising: ething a design on plastic clay
  • slips: a thin coating of liquid clay, used to decorate with pattern/color
  • glazes: thin coating of silica – forms a thin coating of glass (historic, not pre-historic)
  • curvilinear or rectilinear guilloche (double helix design common to Ft. Ancient pottery)
  • loop handles, lug handles, strap handles

Archaeological interpretations — Pottery provides info about:

  • dating: seriation, thermoluminescence
  • trade: non-local clays or design elements may indicate trade
  • function: establishing the function of a pot may lead to hypotheses about the function of larger entities such as sites
  • status: pottery may also be indicative of social relations or status
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