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Addressing the Challenges of Developing a Standardized System for the Morphological and Functional Analysis of Archaeological Pottery

Author(s): James Skibo ; Timothy Figol ; Mary Malainey

Year: 2015

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Our study of precontact Aboriginal pottery from Western Canada involves morphological, use-alteration and stylistic analyses of individual vessels and the creation of precise three-dimensional vessel models using computer-assisted design (CAD) software that is free-of-charge to students and educators. "Whole vessel" morphological analysis is then performed on the models using the CAD program. Manuals on how to generate and analyze accurate CAD models of whole or partially reconstructed vessels using the software are finished. Manuals outlining how to collect baseline morphological data from vessels or fragments thereof, take the necessary high-resolution digital images and perform detailed descriptive and use-alteration analyses have been developed. Students from Illinois State University will test these procedures on pottery collections from the American Midwest. By producing a standardized system of pottery analysis that is applicable to sites across North America, the data collected will be ready for incorporation into a web-based, interactive searchable database. The proposed database will not only allow us to share our results, but permit others to contribute new vessels, analyze the pottery themselves and conduct intra- and inter-site comparisons. As the database expands, the need to access institutional pottery collections, which can be difficult, expensive and time-consuming, will be reduced.

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Addressing the Challenges of Developing a Standardized System for the Morphological and Functional Analysis of Archaeological Pottery. Mary Malainey, Timothy Figol, James Skibo. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397442)


Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America