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Questioning Technological and Economic "Decline" in the Medieval Rural Levant

Author(s): Ian Jones

Year: 2015

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Summary

This paper argues against a common view of medieval Levantine villages as isolated from larger regional centers by examining a group of hand-made ceramics — commonly called Hand-Made Geometrically Painted Wares (HMGPW), and formerly "pseudo-prehistoric" wares — prevalent across the Levant from the 12th-17th centuries AD. They are generally seen as the products of non-specialist village potters and, as the older name suggests, an example of technological decline. That view, though, is based primarily on ethnographic evidence from the late 19th and 20th century Levant, and hinges on a number of assumed, and generally unquestioned, dichotomies: urban/rural, specialist/non-specialist, wheel-made/hand-made. As HMGPW is the most visible indicator of settlement during these periods in the southern Levant, these assumptions have influenced the ways archaeologists conceive of rural Levantine economies, leading to a view of villages as disconnected from larger centers where higher-quality, wheel-made pots were produced. This view, however, is at odds with historical evidence for substantial state investment in rural agriculture. In this paper, I present a broader approach to HMGPW — integrating archaeological and ethnoarchaeological insights from beyond the Levant — that helps us better understand what the widespread adoption and longevity of this "retrogressive" technology says about rural economies.

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Cite this Record

Questioning Technological and Economic "Decline" in the Medieval Rural Levant. Ian Jones. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397536)


Keywords

General
Ceramics Economy Levant

Geographic Keywords
West Asia


Spatial Coverage

min long: 25.225; min lat: 15.115 ; max long: 66.709; max lat: 45.583 ;