Skilled people or specialists? Knowledge and expertise in copper age vessels from central Italy

Author(s): Vanessa Forte

Year: 2019


Studying craft specialisation in archaeology involves investigating and reconstructing how production was organised.

This article focuses on prehistoric communities and asks who performed specific tasks. Ceramic specialisation is traditionally approached through models of production organisation that are largely based on ethnoarchaeological case studies and are usually difficult to link with the archaeological evidence. Based on these models, the economic framework plays a key role in associating the emergence of specialisation with the intensification of the demand for goods and identifying specialists by the amount of time required for production.

This approach neglects the social value of products and the social context sustaining skills development.

This article discusses surface treatments as a means to understand the skills of potters and the social values of specific ceramic products in Copper Age communities from central Italy. The methodology combines the analysis of technological traces and experimental archaeology used to infer craftspeople’s expertise and reveals differences in the chaîne opératoire and skills involved in the production of domestic and funerary vessels. The results support a hypothesis of household specialisation that developed in these communities based upon differences in skills, knowledge and dedication among potters and the recurrent association of skilled productions with ritual contexts.

Cite this Record

Skilled people or specialists? Knowledge and expertise in copper age vessels from central Italy. Vanessa Forte. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. 55 (101072): 1-20. 2019 ( tDAR id: 452708) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8452708

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections



Geographic Keywords

Temporal Keywords
Copper Age

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): EXARC Experimental Archaeology Collection Manager


Rights & Attribution: The information in this record was originally compiled by Dr. Roeland Paardekooper, EXARC Director.

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