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Transferring Technological Styles: an Ethnoarchaeological Study of Marginalized Pottery Production in Tigray, Northern Highland Ethiopia.

Author(s): Diane Lyons

Year: 2017

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Summary

The transfer of pottery making skills and knowledge is well studied in Africa using the chaîne opératoire methodology. Chaîne opératoire is understood as a social practice in which technological choices are guided by social choices that potters learn as members of a potter community. The complement of technological choices of this group of potters creates a unique technological style. Africanists use technological styles to study the history of potter communities through time and space. But what happens if the learning network is transferred to other people? This paper presents results from a regional study of pottery production in northern Tigray. Contemporary pottery production is an economic strategy of very poor women, who are socially marginalized for practicing a despised craft. However, historians argue that blacksmithing and pottery making in the northern highlands were monopolized by a Jewish sub-group called the Beta Israel, who formed an endogamous caste. Most Beta Israel were evacuated to Israel during and at the end of Ethiopia's civil war (1974-1991). Our study found a more complex social picture of pottery production than historians allow, and contributes to our understanding of the variability in the transfer of technological styles between diverse communities.


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Transferring Technological Styles: an Ethnoarchaeological Study of Marginalized Pottery Production in Tigray, Northern Highland Ethiopia.. Diane Lyons. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431935)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
AFRICA


Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15578

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