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Material Culture and Cultural Meanings: Current Studies of Archaeological Ceramics and in Ce­ramic Ethnoarchaeology

Author:

Charles C. Kolb

National Endowment for the Humanities Washington, US
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Abstract

Pottery and People: A Dynamic Interaction. James M. Skibo and Gary M. Feinman (editors). Founda­tions of Archaeological Inquiry. Salt Lake City. University of Utah Press. 1999. 260 pp. 91 figures. 30 tables. ISBN 0-87480-576-7. $55.00 (cloth); 0-87489-577-5. $25.00 (paperback).

Material Meanings: Critical Approaches to the Interpretation of Material Culture. Elizabeth S. Chilton (editor). Foundations of Archaeological Inquiry. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. 1999.179pp. 35 figures. 11 tables. ISBN 0-87480-632-1. $55.00 (cloth); 087480-633-X. $35.00 (paperback).

The description and interpretation of material culture may be regarded as the essence of archaeology, a discipline that seeks to recover, describe, document, and interpret past human culture. More recently, understanding that actions occur in a material world that is constituted symbolically, archaeological explanations are often framed in sociocultural meanings, the analysis of agencies, practices and behaviors. I shall subsequently return to this issue. Because of their longevity in the archaeological record, lithic and ceramic artifacts are crucial to the endeavor to interpret human culture. Objects fashioned from clay and subjected to intentional artificial sources of heat made their initial appearance in the archaeological record more than 26.000 years ago. Ceramic objects have been created in a seemingly endless variety of shapes and forms, varying from fertility figurines. to cooking and food storage vessels. lamps, smoking pipes, medicinal pastilles, tokens, beehives, and coffins to modern whitewares and pyroceramics.
How to Cite: Kolb, C.C., (2000). Material Culture and Cultural Meanings: Current Studies of Archaeological Ceramics and in Ce­ramic Ethnoarchaeology. Bulletin of the History of Archaeology. 10(1), pp.25–37. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/bha.10108
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Published on 29 May 2000.

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