Grupo de Estudos do Simbólico e Técnico da Olaria (Pottery Symbolic and Technical Study Group, (GESTO) is an active group in the area of Minas Gerais, Brazil, which focuses on practicing South American pottery techniques through experimental archaeology.
Their main focus is to spread archaeological knowledge, in particular the reproduction of all stages of traditional Amerindian pottery techniques, from the collection of raw materials to the reproduction of objects and the baking with wood fires. The group was born out of the great interest that students of the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais had for experimental techniques of pottery reproduction. Now led by Prof. Lilian Panachuk and other professionals from the University, the group invites students, graduates and urban potters from Belo Horizonte and surroundings to participate in research and reproduction.
Since 2019, the group’s activities are expanding more than ever before. With around 450 people working on projects, these range from ceramic modelling workshops, several lectures and recreation of traditional wood firing. They also provide catered material and workshops for younger audiences (ages 8 to 12). Moreover, they have established a permanent exhibition of replicas of ceramic pots found in the archaeological site of Florestal II (Minas Gerais) at the Museu de Historia Natural E Jardim Botanico da UFMG. Additionally, the associated scholar Laila Kierulff is currently working in the countryside with the traditional communities of Fidalgo and Quinta do Sumidouro located in Pedro Leopoldo, Minas Gerais, which is an area of great archaeological history in Brazil. The group has through this investigation provided access to archaeological publications and knowledge in the area, as well as encouraging the local women’s potter’s association to start selling its ceramic production, making this a key income source for the community. Their activities have adapted to the current COVID crisis by going online, providing workshops, videos and lectures on their Instagram page @gestoufmg.