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ETHNOARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY OF POTTERY MAKING IN MEKELLE,THE CASE OF DEBRI,GEMBELA, AND MAY ALEM QEBELES. [Abstract ID: 0104-07]
Pottery making is a learned practice of changing clay into fired pots. From an Ethnoarchaeological perspective, the craft involves various material cultures used in different stages of the production. The principal objective of this study was to document the way in which the Mekelle potters process clay and produce pot objects by investigating the living material cultures of the craft. Interview, observations and survey were used as the main sources of data collection instruments. The Ethnoarchaeological investigation of pottery making in Mekelle is the first of its kind. Though similarities with other areas are shown in the clay extraction, decoration and firing stages of pottery production, the use of different clay types for a single pot typology is a unique tradition among the potters in the study area. Besides, the proximity of the research areas to nearly a century-aged town which is now under extensive expansion has threatened the craft. Thus, Ethnoarchaeological investigation of the area has helped to document the ethnographic data before its complete disappearance. The social ranking of the potters alongside the other craftsmen and the non-craft community is also addressed. Labor division was another interesting issue raised. In regard to the gender, Mekelle Pottery is exclusively made, transported and marketed by woman. Thus, crafts in Mekelle are gender based. For example smiths and weavers are all men in the study area. Finally significant archaeological implications and behaviors were hinted.