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At the interface of makers, matter, and material culture: techniques and society in the ceramics of the southern British Later Iron Age

Sutton, A. D. (2018) At the interface of makers, matter, and material culture: techniques and society in the ceramics of the southern British Later Iron Age. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Changing pottery production methods are one of numerous significant developments in the archaeological record of Later Iron Age southern Britain. Previous studies of ceramic technology in this period (e.g. Rigby & Freestone 1997; Hill 2002) suffered from a lack of empirical data with which to characterise technological change, and only sparingly engaged with material culture theory. Our understanding of the social significance of changing technology has therefore remained largely obscured. Clay is a plastic medium upon which numerous traces of technological practices leave their mark. These practices yield valuable information pertaining to how people interacted with the material world in socially-constructed ways, and how this changed during periods of upheaval. On this basis, this study provides the first attempt to empirically characterise the nature of ceramic technological change in two studyregions: Berkshire and northern Hampshire; and Hertfordshire. Petrographic and SEM analyses were used to characterise technological properties of Middle and Late Iron Age ceramic fabrics from the two regions; and radiographic analysis of 428 vessels revealed details of forming methods employed. Elements of continuity are identified for the first time: for example, in patterns of clay preparation or the use of coil-building; as well as in the continued production of flint-tempered pottery in Hampshire. Novel technology was variably employed alongside this continuity: for example, in both regions the potter’s wheel was employed in at least two different ways - wheel-coiling, and throwing. Results point to a Middle Iron Age characterised by numerous localised systems of technical practice, from which emerged a Late Iron Age that saw technical knowledge flow more freely between groups of producers. This enriched technological background provided the means for the constitution of new forms of identity, and the reconfiguration of what it meant to be a craftsperson in a rapidly changing society.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Fulford, M. and Timby, J.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Archaeology, Geography & Environmental Science
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:77705
Date on Title Page:2017
Additional Information:Data appendices supplied with hard bound copy not available to download from CentAUR

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