Scientific article
Open access

Beyond Uniformity: Technical and historical dynamics among pottery traditions in the Falémé Valley, eastern Senegal

Published inJournal of anthropological archaeology, vol. 75, 101602
Publication date2024-06-05
First online date2024-06-05

Ceramic traditions are constantly evolving, but the pace of change is variable and not all stages of the chaîne op´eratoire are affected in the same way, depending on the causes of borrowing, abandonment, or innovation. Few ethnoarchaeological studies in Africa have focused on a detailed understanding of these dynamics, which are important for the interpretation of past societies. Our study was conducted from 2012 to 2015 along the Fal´em´e Valley in eastern Senegal, characterized by diverse cultures and environments. It aims to understand the historical dynamics of ceramic traditions by documenting the variability and spatial distribution of the different stages of the chaîne op´eratoire, and analyzing the factors that explain the transformations of techniques, potters’ tools and finished objects over different temporalities, both long- and short-term. The results show that the same fashioning technique, molding on a convex shape, is used by all potters, whatever their cultural identity. On the contrary, firing procedures indicate two different traditions. The reconstruction of potters’ genealogies and apprenticeship networks anchor both traditions in distinct social trajectories, and their spatial distribution corresponds with the ones of precolonial kingdoms expanding after the Mˆali empire’s collapse, between the 17th and the 19th century CE: the Fulbe kingdom of Boundou in the north, and three Mande kingdoms in the south. Beside this long-term dynamic, elements of paste recipes’ or potter toolkits’ transformation, and the abandonment of certain types of pots refer to recent dynamics dating back to a few decades, in a context of climate change and growing globalization.

  • Ethnohistory
  • Pottery
  • Technology
  • Cultural dynamics
  • Precolonial kingdoms
  • Senegal
  • Africa
Citation (ISO format)
DELVOYE, Adrien, MAYOR, Anne, GUÈYE, Ndèye Sokhna. Beyond Uniformity: Technical and historical dynamics among pottery traditions in the Falémé Valley, eastern Senegal. In: Journal of anthropological archaeology, 2024, vol. 75, p. 101602. doi: 10.1016/j.jaa.2024.101602
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0278-4165

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