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Use of ethnoarchaeology for a better understanding of ceramic production, diffusion and consumption modalities: the Mali example

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Published in Di Pierro, S. ; Serneels, V. & Maggetti, M. Ceramic in the society: proceedings of the 6th European Meeting on Ancient Ceramics. Fribourg - 3-6 October 2001 - Fribourg: Department of Geosciences, Mineralogy and Petrography, University of Fribourg. 2003, p. 217-229
Abstract Ethnoarchaeology can be considered as representing an experimental strategy for understanding archaeological material remains, based on the analysis of these remains within living cultures and on the concept of behavioural analogy. Over the last decades, several ethnoarchaeological studies, carried out in Africa, Asia and South America, have concerned pottery, and have tried to link description to interpretation, in order to answer some of archaeologists' recurrent questions. In parallel to the development of ceramology and laboratory techniques, this sub-discipline of anthropology is particularly promising, as it offers a number of "regularities" and seeks the explanatory mechanisms behind the latter. We shall illustrate this approach with the preliminary results of analyses carried out by members of the MAESAO team from the University of Geneva, on field data collected in Mali since 1988. We shall principally present the contexts of: production, where pottery shaping techniques are recognised by their surface features ; diffusion, where the mechanisms explaining the spatial diffusion of a pottery style are identified ; consumption, with the relation between shape and function, the factors influencing the life expectancy of the potteries, and the conditions necessary for pottery from different traditions to be present within a single compound. Examples of application to an archaeological context will be given: the interpretation of the pottery from two 19th c. Malian sites (Hamdallahi and Modjodjé), the construction of a model for the history of Dogon peopling and a study of Iron Age terracotta pestles in the Sahel area.
Keywords EthnoarchaeologyMaliHamdallahiProductionDiffusionConsumptionSurface featuresAutomatic cartographyFunctionsUse-life
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Research groups Unité d'anthropologie
Laboratoire d’archéologie et peuplement de l'Afrique (APA)
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MAYOR, Anne. Use of ethnoarchaeology for a better understanding of ceramic production, diffusion and consumption modalities: the Mali example. In: Di Pierro, S. ; Serneels, V. & Maggetti, M. (Ed.). Ceramic in the society: proceedings of the 6th European Meeting on Ancient Ceramics. Fribourg. Fribourg : Department of Geosciences, Mineralogy and Petrography, University of Fribourg, 2003. p. 217-229. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:116895

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