The American Research Center in Eygpt

LECTURE: Pottery as a Tool for understanding the Past

LECTURE: Pottery as a Tool for understanding the Past

LECTURE: Pottery as a Tool for understanding the Past

Natasha Ayers, University of Chicago

Pottery is the most abundant class of artifact discovered at an archaeological site, but what can we learn about the past from these broken pieces of fired clay? Archaeologists can use pottery to gain a clearer picture of many facets of ancient societies. Our chronologies have relied heavily on pottery sequences since the late 19th century; however, pottery is currently used for much more than simply establishing a date.

For example, imported vessels can lead to a better understanding of international trade networks and socio-political ties in the eastern Mediterranean. A change in the types of pottery discovered in an Egyptian burial can reveal changing religious views. Something as simple as a change in cooking pots can indicate a change in local cuisine and even help trace population migrations at the end of the Late Bronze Age.

This talk will discuss the methods archaeologist use to analyze pottery and explore specific examples of how pottery has been used as a tool to understand the ancient world.

Natasha Ayers recently received her PhD in Egyptian Archaeology from the University of Chicago. She has been a ceramicist for the Tell Edfu Project since 2007 and has participated in excavations in Egypt and Greece. Her research focuses on changes in material culture and the chronology of the Middle Kingdom through the early New Kingdom.

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