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Keepers of Tradition, Harbingers of Change: Tracing Communities of Practice through Archaeological Ceramics

Author(s): Sonali Gupta-agarwal

Year: 2017

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Summary

Traditions are transmitted through teaching and learning. The manner in which knowledge relating to craft production gets transmitted can help us in understanding the causes behind cultural continuity and change. In this paper, I use an anthropological approach to discern teaching and learning patterns. I investigate the role of potters in modern-day pottery workshops of Egypt and India in the transmission of knowledge relating to pottery production. Employing video footage using a video annotation research tool, I discern subtle gestures and postures of potters engaged in the process of pottery production and statistically examine these to reveal patterns specific to each workshop. I transpose the method and understanding gained from the study of modern potters to the archaeological context in Karanis, Egypt. Teaching and learning of pottery making leaves recognizable markers on the vessel that can be traced metrically. My research suggests that one can trace ancient communities of practice, knowledge transfer and interpret continuity or change in material culture as part of an ongoing learning tradition.


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Keepers of Tradition, Harbingers of Change: Tracing Communities of Practice through Archaeological Ceramics. Sonali Gupta-agarwal. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431675)


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Abstract Id(s): 16849

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