The Social Life of Pots

Glaze Wares and Cultural Dynamics in the Southwest, AD 1250-1680

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The demographic upheavals that altered the social landscape of the Southwest from the thirteenth through the seventeenth centuries forced peoples from diverse backgrounds to literally remake their worlds—transformations in community, identity, and power that are only beginning to be understood through innovations in decorated ceramics. In addition to aesthetic changes that included new color schemes, new painting techniques, alterations in design, and a greater emphasis on iconographic imagery, some of the wares reflect a new production efficiency resulting from more specialized household and community-based industries. Also, they were traded over longer distances and were used more often in public ceremonies than earlier ceramic types.

Through the study of glaze-painted pottery, archaeologists are beginning to understand that pots had “social lives” in this changing world and that careful reconstruction of the social lives of pots can help us understand the social lives of Puebloan peoples. In this book, fifteen contributors apply a wide range of technological and stylistic analysis techniques to pottery of the Rio Grande and Western Pueblo areas to show what it reveals about inter- and intra-community dynamics, work groups, migration, trade, and ideology in the precontact and early postcontact Puebloan world.

The contributors report on research conducted throughout the glaze producing areas of the Southwest and cover the full historical range of glaze ware production. Utilizing a variety of techniques—continued typological analyses, optical petrography, instrumental neutron activation analysis, X-ray microprobe analysis, and inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy—they develop broader frameworks for examining the changing role of these ceramics in social dynamics. By tracing the circulation and exchange of specialized knowledge, raw materials, and the pots themselves via social networks of varying size, they show how glaze ware technology, production, exchange, and reflected a variety of dynamic historical and social processes.

Through this material evidence, the contributors reveal that technological and aesthetic innovations were deliberately manipulated and disseminated to actively construct “communities of practice” that cut across language and settlement groups. The Social Life of Pots offers a wealth of new data from this crucial period of prehistory and is an important baseline for future work in this area.
Patricia Capone
Linda S. Cordell
Suzanne L. Eckert
Thomas R. Fenn
Judith A. Habicht-Mauche
Cynthia L Herhahn
Maren Hopkins
Deborah L. Huntley
Toni S. Laumbach
Kathryn Leonard
Barbara J. Mills
Kit Nelson
Gregson Schachner
Miriam T. Stark
Scott Van Keuren
The Social Life of Pots
376 Pages 6 x 9 x 1.4
Published: September 2023Paperback ISBN: 9780816553556
Published: September 2022Ebook ISBN: 9780816551064

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