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THE WOMEN POTTERS OF YESTERDAY AND TODAY: A REVIEW OF ETHNO-ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESEARCH IN THE ADIGRAT AREA [Abstract ID: 0104-01]
Ethnological study and experimental archaeology rarely are expected as methods of research in archaeological projects. He who has no anthropological and sociological background may not accept that these fields are valuable disciplines with their own theories, methods, approaches and procedural schedules and not just mere evanescent accomplices. Primary is a direct and intimate research interaction with human beings. In contrast to pure excavation, mankind is the focal point of ethno-experimental archaeology. Without the direct observation of present-day practices and transmitted traditions, as well as a personal effort to reproduce these with the artisans tutoring with regard to their artifacts, it is completely impossible to understand the ancient custom and interpret archaeological materials. In 2013-2014, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in the female potters’ world. No one, not even “open-mind” archaeologists cannot help but be fascinated by the contemporary pottery productions in the non-industrial communities in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. Starting from my need to understand the shapes and functions of ancient unrecognisable vessels at the beginning around several markets in the Eastern and Central Tigray, I observed different kinds of traditional pottery productions and fabrication methods. After observing, interviewing, listening and admiring the elaborate works of these women I approached our archaeological site near Adigrat. The pottery at first conceals the technical skill of the potters, their knowledge of materials and manufacturing, but also the sociological and economic values which connect the potters with their communities, institutions and traditions. I presented a part of these first results and personal inexpert observations in 2015 at a conference in Ethiopia. After four years I returned to estimate the potters' situations and share the results with the academics and the locals.