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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Michela GAUDIELLO, Heidelberg University, Germany

Without a shadow of a doubt this is the first question that a ceramic expert will ask a given interlocutor when a piece of pottery needs to be described and contextualised. Why it is so important know the provenance and the period of production of ancient ceramics? The archaeological reconstruction of ancient societies' historic development takes into account several aspects of the analysed communities and merges in a proper way all the acquired information to better interpret the ancient socio-economic and cultural system: inscriptions, texts, buildings, architectural elements, funeral customs, objects connected with religious behaviour, material industries, tools and objects of common use, etc. In the service of archaeological and historical theories, normally fragmented, sometimes moot and frequently conflicting, the ceramic materials can open different interpretations and add new data to the whole understanding process. Accurate analysis of even a single sherd in connection with the assemblage and archaeological contexts may enable insights regarding: What was the vessel’s primary function? Which social group required it? For which purpose was the vessel made? How and where was it used? Who made it? On the base of multiple information achieved by ceramic analysis, some examples will be discussed herein: the paucity of imported potsherds to refute the colonization theory; the finding of a specific pot to date and illuminate the function of different site-types; the acquisition and transformation of ancient and foreign productions into new local traditions; and the presence of similar sherds in different contexts to highlight the regional interconnections and establish the trade network connections.