Who Attended Their Funerals? A Petrographic Comparison of Pottery from the Majiayao Culture of Neolithic China
Author(s): Andrew Womack
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.
In northwestern China’s Gansu Province, painted pottery from the late Neolithic Majiayao Culture has long been admired for its skillful construction and beautiful painted motifs. Since the majority of whole vessels have been recovered from graves, it has generally been assumed that these items were produced primarily for mortuary purposes, including for displaying wealth or projecting the political or religious power of the deceased. This paper reassesses these claims in light of a petrographic analysis of sherds from nearby mortuary and habitation contexts. By examining the production processes embedded in these items, including producer choices in paste recipes and raw material selection, as well as surface treatment, I suggest that vessels from mortuary contexts are not simply displaying wealth or power. Instead, they likely reflect diverse communities of producers and consumers who were directly participating in funerary events. These results highlight the importance of examining production choices alongside vessel style and context when interpreting the role of pottery in mortuary settings.
Cite this Record
Who Attended Their Funerals? A Petrographic Comparison of Pottery from the Majiayao Culture of Neolithic China. Andrew Womack. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451532)
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min long: 70.4; min lat: 17.141 ; max long: 146.514; max lat: 53.956 ;
Abstract Id(s): 23383