Pots with Purpose: Examining Mortuary Craft Specialization on the Late Woodland Gulf Coast


This is an abstract from the "Cross-Cultural Petrographic Studies of Ceramic Traditions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Extant models of craft specialization often assume that craft production served to instantiate or reify existing social relationships. By this line of reasoning, pots must have played only a passive role at communal gatherings and mortuary rituals. If pots were merely the accoutrements of specialists, the symbols of lineages, or status markers, pots in and of themselves could not have generated social change. However, archaeologists might reach different conclusions about these relationships by viewing pottery production and exchange as part of a broader suite of efficacious technologies (sensu Warnier 2009), which had enduring effects in people’s lives. Pots do much more than signify inclusion or membership into lineages and social units; they can also facilitate new types of social interaction in the context of specific events and ceremonies, such as mortuary rituals. Pots themselves then potentially place humans within novel circumstances. We support this position by presenting technological, petrographic, and chemical (NAA) data of mortuary pottery from Late Woodland (AD 600-1000) sites across the Florida Gulf Coast. We use these data to suggest that the types of relationships which emerged between specific activities, pots, and people during this timeframe prompted labor reorganization and craft specialization in the region.

Cite this Record

Pots with Purpose: Examining Mortuary Craft Specialization on the Late Woodland Gulf Coast. C. Trevor Duke, Neill J. Wallis, Ann S. Cordell. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451531)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.735; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -73.389; max lat: 39.572 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 25719