Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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TILAHUN Asefa, Samara University, Ethiopia

Ethnoarchaeological study was conducted on pottery production in Gawee and Edega Arbi villages of southeastern Tigray region. The purpose of the study was to investigate the overall aspects of pottery production from an ethnoarchaeological perspective so as to gain a better understanding of pottery in the archaeological record by making comparisons between the two villages. The data gathered through survey, observation and interviews with purposefully selected informants were analyzed qualitatively. Accordingly, the study indicates that clay is the basic element for pottery making, while sand, unfired potsherds and donkey dung are identified as tempering materials across the selected villages. However, all clay products could not be treated by the same type of temper. This consequently would help a great deal to understand the potential source area of archaeological potsherds in the study area. In the study area, potters acquire raw materials for pot making not far from their production areas and this could help to distinguish between imported and locally manufactured clay objects. In the study area, pottery production is generally performed step by step starting by collecting of raw material and lasting with firing. Though there is some difference in some processes of pot making among potters of the villages, none of these differences reveal variation in ethnicity but could tell us the existence of local specialization. The presence of similarities in some aspects, however, could indicate the prevalence of socio-cultural contact among the artisans at intra and inter-village levels. As potters performed most of their manufacturing process in their compound, firing pits with debris of ash, fragments of pots and toolkits used for pottery making could be left there. Besides, pots could be broken and discarded at market places and non-potter households of consumers and eventually enter into the archaeological record. Thus, this study indicates pottery production areas, market places and households of consumers, non-potters, could become sources of archaeological site formation in the study area.