Investigating Trans-Generational Training Networks in Central Africa: A Multi-Layered Analysis of Pottery Technology

01 October 2021 → 30 September 2024
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Archaeology of Australia, Asia, Africa, and the Americas
    • Etnoarchaeology
    • Material culture studies
    • Prehistoric archaeology
    • Archaeological theory
Ceramic Studies Communities of Practice African Archaeology
Project description

Research into the social fabric of prehistoric communities is regularly hampered by the fact that a clear link between historical records and prehistoric material culture is missing. Studies concerned with the transfer of knowledge - a key to understanding changes in material culture through time - must use analogies to interpret their findings of prehistoric communities. This project aims at redefining our understanding of pottery-producing communities, and how they transmitted their knowledge and expertise throughout generations, with a direct historical approach. Collective production sequences (chaînes opératoires) and the provenance of vessels are reconstructed to infer communities of practice and their interrelationships through time; by relying on existing ethnographic and archaeological collections from Central Africa, and a multi-layered analytical framework. The study area is of particular importance, as potters' traditions are still vibrant within the equatorial rainforest and the result of a supposedly two-and-a-half millennia-long transfer of knowledge. Ceramics constitute the most prominent find-category encountered by archaeologists and form the basis of various regional chrono-historical frameworks. By focussing on the transitions of practices concerning the making of pottery, the project will close substantial knowledge gaps within the archaeology of Central Africa and make essential contributions to the field of ceramic studies in general.