More than any other category of evidence, ceramics ofters archaeologists their most abundant and potentially enlightening source of information on the past. Being made primarily of day, a relatively inexpensive material that is available in every region, ceramics became essential in virtually every society in the world during the past ten thousand years. The straightfor- ward technology of preparing, forming, and firing day into hard, durable shapes has meant that societies at various levels of complexity have come to rely on it for a wide variety of tasks. Ceramic vessels quickly became essential for many household and productive tasks. Food preparation, cooking, and storage-the very basis of settled village life-could not exist as we know them without the use of ceramic vessels. Often these vessels broke into pieces, but the virtually indestructible quality of the ceramic material itself meant that these pieces would be preserved for centuries, waiting to be recovered by modem archaeologists.
The ability to create ceramic material with diverse physical properties, to form vessels into so many different shapes, and to decorate them in limitless manners, led to their use in far more than utilitarian contexts. Some vessels were especially made to be used in trade, manufacturing activities, or rituals, while ceramic material was also used to make other items such as figurines, models, and architectural ornaments.
`Approaches to Archaeological Ceramics will serve well as the basic text in an introductory course on archaeological ceramics...the book is well-written and highly readable.'
`This thorough, up-to-date text that leads the student from the making of pots on to chronology building, the interpretation of function and style, and the practical mechanics of quantitative analysis. The book is at once an accessible introduction for all students and a comprehensive guide to the more technical literature.'
Stephen A. Kowalewski, University of Georgia
1 Approaches to Archaeological Ceramics.- 2 Defining Ceramics.- 3 Studying Archaeological Ceramics.- 4 Using Ceramics to Answer Questions: I. Ethnographic Data, Ceramic Ethnoarchaeology, and Ceramic Chronologies.- 5 Using Ceramics to Answer Questions: II. Ceramic Use and Ceramic Production and Distribution.- 6 Using Ceramics to Answer Questions: III. Ceramics and Social Organization.- 7 Using Ceramics to Answer Questions: IV. Ceramics and Political Organization.- 8 Directions in Ceramic Research.- References.