2020 November - Archaeological Approaches to the Study of the Potter’s Wheel #potterycon

Co-organised by
University of Amsterdam (NL)
University of Hradec Králové (CZ)


The recent past has witnessed a flowering of scholarship explicitly addressing the way that individuals, communities, and societies responded to the introduction of the pottery wheel. In region after region, period after period, existing potting traditions were adjusted, altered, supplanted, or otherwise changed as potters negotiated with the different practices that this technological device enabled. To date, however, discussions of the integration of rotational potting have been largely seated within geographically- and/or chronologically-focused literature. This conference provides a forum for scholars to discuss their work with colleagues, and will facilitate the development of a research network of shared interest which bridges those geographic and chronological divisions. Conference sessions are divided into three themes.

Taking part

Taking part in the Archaeological Approaches to the Study of the Potter’s Wheel is free of charge. The conference is entirely online. Upon registration, you will be sent a digital conference pack with more information on the platform we’ll be using, the speakers, and an abstract book. Click here to register: https://potterswheelconference2020.wordpress.com/registration/. This conference (#potterycon) will be fully digital, open access. The lectures will be presented at https://www.youtube.com/c/ExarcNetofficial. For interaction with the speakers and the other participants, Questions and Answers, please join our Discord Server via this link: https://discord.gg/MJTUwc8 . Once you click, you are prompted to present yourself in 1, 2 sentences and then one of us will let you in.


Open Call for Papers

This is an open call for papers to all anybody employing an experimental approach in their research of the potter’s wheel or are focused more on presentation and sharing of the craft experience.

These articles will be published in the EXARC Journal: https://exarc.net/journal. This open access journal is the leading open access online journal for those involved in experimental archaeology, archaeological open-air museum practice, ancient and traditional technology as well as interpretation and education. It features the latest developments in fieldwork, academic research, museum studies, and living history interpretation. The EXARC Journal attracts over 30,000 readers annually.

The deadline for submissions is 15 January 2021 with publication expected by June 1st 2021.

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Theme 1

The first theme is centred on questions of the mode of research. As yet, there is no reliable, objective methodology for identifying the ways that the potter’s wheel was utilised in pottery forming sequences. This is in turn exacerbated by the rarity of robust sampling and acquisition of statistically significant data which might better accommodate questions of technological variability and technological development. Different approaches have been used to identify and describe vessels formed with rotation, relying on evidence such as traces viewed at the micro, meso, and macro scale, as well as through xeroradiography, CT scanning, and 3D visualisation to name a few. This evidence may or may not be supported by a body of experimental work or replicative potting. The inclusion of this theme in the conference sessions will allow for a dialogue to emerge regarding standards of practice in documentation, presentation, and terminology when describing the evidence.  
See: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqWUT1pOFU1NyRJvH8Morbgeh2NIejw97

Theme 2

Beyond the foundational level of interpretation and documentation of evidence is the second theme, which addresses our approaches to understanding the evolution of wheel potting techniques. Each archaeological context in which these questions are asked is formed of its own particular context based on social, economic, and cultural spheres, which defined the character of the interplay between device capabilities and potting practices through time. How then can we capture the character of the innovation and clarify the driving forces behind its spread and evolution? In the case where a particular evolutionary scenario is proposed, what is the nature of the evidence used to support it? Is the likelihood of lasting technological change predicated on certain societal conditions? 
See: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqWUT1pOFU1NSOBjNucxJjBhuDAvwI7Fe

Theme 3

The final theme of the conference extends beyond the boundaries of the archaeological record, and privileges the knowledge and experience of people negotiating technological change, whether through ethnographic accounts or first-hand descriptions of change within a crafting context. Examples which can provide detailed insights into the anatomy of this innovation are especially encouraged. These narratives are often used as the basis for archaeological interpretation, and by emphasizing their importance as a central theme, a better understanding may be reached of emerging technologies as a process occurring within a complex social system
See: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqWUT1pOFU1MKm83zGzWQD0UOiTnUl6Eq


Potting Film Festival

We feature films showing the diversity of practices associated with the potter’s wheel, illustrating the work of full time potters as well as experimental archaeologists.

The Potting Festival is part of the Conference "Archaeological Approaches to the Study of the Potter’s Wheel" #potterycon https://exarc.net/meetings/potters-wheel

The aim of this festival is to showcase the work of potters from around the world, emphasising the diversity of techniques and tools. Wherever potters can be found, both in the past and the present, so can the concept of rotating clay and forming it into any number of shapes and designs. The potting festival exemplifies the exchange of knowledge and techniques that remains inherent in crafts such as pottery making. This festival will be an exposition of potters using wheel-making techniques, whether as analogies for the archaeological record, or for general production.

Filmmakers will be available for an open discussion on Thursday, 26 November at 14:00 (CET).

You can find the Potting Film Festival here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqWUT1pOFU1NOY_OTD2xFVmPyUG8tvIZF


Further information and updates about the conference can be found at: https://potterswheelconference2020.wordpress.com

Organizers of #potterycon: Caroline Jeffra, Richard Thér, Chase Minos and Roeland Paardekooper


Tuesday, 24 November

12:00h (all times CET) Organizers’ Welcome
12:20h Inaugural Address by Prof. Sander van der Leeuw: Invention… in Ceramics and the Environment
13:00h Comfort Break
Theme One
See: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqWUT1pOFU1NyRJvH8Morbgeh2NIejw97
13:20h (1.1.) Quantification of the orientation of aplastic components of a ceramic body as the tool for the identification of the forming techniques utilising rotational kinetic energy: review of the current state of research (R. Thér and T. Mangel)
13:40h (1.2.) The relationship between pore orientation and speed: an experimental approach (I. Berg)
14:00h Questions
14:20h Lunch Break
15:20h (1.3.) Web Application for Velocity Analysis of Hand-operated Wheel Replica (B. Neth and E. Hasaki)
15:40h (1.4.) Identification of the contribution of rotational movement in pottery forming sequence based on statistical analysis of surface (J. Wilszek and R. Thér)
16:00h Questions
16:20h Comfort Break
16:40h (1.5.) A Return to the Wheel: Rethinking Experimental Methodologies in the Study of Early Wheel Potting (C. Minos)
17:00h (1.6.) Re-appraising the potter’s wheel in dynastic Egyptian and Sudanese sites (S. Doherty)
17:20h (1.7.) Widening participation in wheel-potting technique assessment (C. Jeffra)
17:40h Questions
18:00h Comfort Break
18:20h (1.8.) Theme 1 Discussant (Prof. Carl Knappett): Expressive Technique or The Mechanical and the Thinking Hand
19:20h Theme 1 Questions & Discussion
19:40h CET: Day One Closing


Wednesday, 25 November

Theme Two
See: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqWUT1pOFU1NSOBjNucxJjBhuDAvwI7Fe
15:00h (CET) Day Two Welcome
15:20h (2.1.) How the Uruk potters used the wheel. New data on modalities and conditions of emergence of the potter’s wheel in the Uruk world (J.S. Baldi)
15:40h (2.2.) Examining Variability in Anatolian Early Bronze Age Hand-Made and Wheel-Made Pottery (A. Cercone)
16:00h Questions
16:20h Comfort Break
16:40h (2.3.) The potter's wheel as cultural practice in the prehistoric Aegean (M. Choleva)
17:00h (2.4.) Different shades of Gray Minyan: dissecting an ‘iconic’ ceramic class of Middle Bronze Age, mainland Greece (A. Balitsari)
17:20h Questions
17:40h Comfort Break
18:00h (2.5.) Is there only one type of potter’s wheel in Late Bronze Age Greece? (S. Prillwitz)
18:20h (2.6.) The introduction of the Potter’s Wheel in ancient Sudan (S. Doherty)
18:40h (2.7.) Pithos Production in the Late Bronze Age Southern Italy (F. Porta)
19:00h Questions
19:20h: Day Two closing


Thursday, 26 November

Theme Two
See: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqWUT1pOFU1NSOBjNucxJjBhuDAvwI7Fe
15:00h Day Three Welcome
15:20h (2.8.) Chronologies of a new mode of production: the spread of the fast potter’s wheel in Iron Age Iberia (1000 BC – 200 AD) (B. de Groot)
15:40h (2.9.) Wheel rotation on Early Iron Age and Archaic Naxian coarse wares: their context and evolution (X. Charalambidou)
16:00h Questions
16:20h Comfort Break
16:40h (2.10.) Baltic ware in Latvia – a case for coexistence of different potting practises (A. Gunnarssone)
17:00h (2.11.) Beginnings of potter’s wheel in medieval Czech-Moravian Highlands (K. Těsnohlídková and K. Slavíček)
17:20h (2.12.) Old World methods, New World pots? The introduction of the potter’s wheel to the Spanish colonies of Concepción de la Vega and Cotuí (Dominican Republic 1495-1562) (M. Ernst)
17:40h Questions
18:00h Comfort Break
18:20h (2.13.) Theme 2 Discussant (Dr Valentine Roux): Understanding the Evolution of Wheel Potting Techniques
19:20h Theme 2 Questions and Discussion
19:40h Day Three Closing


Friday, 27 November

Theme Three
See: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqWUT1pOFU1MKm83zGzWQD0UOiTnUl6Eq
15:00h Day Four Welcome
15:20h (3.1.) Reinventing the Wheel: Perpetual Innovation in Sinhalese Potter Assemblages (D. Winslow)
15:40h (3.2.) Many ways to turn a wheel: traditional use of the hand-wheel in modern Europe (R. Carlton)
16:00h (3.3.) As the Wheel Turns: the Globalized Evolution of Rotational Potting in the Anglophone Caribbean (P. Fay)
16:20h Questions
16:40h Comfort Break
17:00h (3.4.) Re-made in disappearance, revisiting Aguabuena pottery making through discontinuity (D. Castallanos and F. Romano)
17:20h (3.5.) The potter’s wheel in the Chilean Central Valley a long-term perspective (J. García Rosselló)
17:40h Questions
18:00h Comfort Break
18:20h (3.6.) Theme 3 Discussant Presentation (Prof. Sander van der Leeuw)
19:20h Theme 3 Questions and Discussion
19:40h Closing Remarks