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Accepting Variation and Embracing Uncertainty: Creating a Regional Pottery Typology in South Asian Archaeology

Abstract : Abstract This article presents the results of the analysis of archaeological ceramics collected during landscape surveys in the Vidarbha of Maharashtra, India; and offers the first attempt at a regional pottery typology for this area. Here, as in many other parts of South Asia, the pottery from archaeological sites have been subject to considerable scrutiny. Yet, so far approaches to their study have focussed on mainly their surface colour and feel. This has resulted in overly simplistic typologies that do not (and cannot) accommodate the full range of variation that exists within a ceramic assemblage, and so limit their value as archaeological evidence. Addressing this, we apply a chaîne opératoire -based approach to the analysis of a ceramic assemblage that we have been developing in this region. This results in a much more complex and detailed pottery typology than has so far been achieved. Throughout this study we also identify points of comparison with familiar parallels published elsewhere. In doing so, the resulting typology, while by no means the final word on the matter, provides a valuable and flexible resource that others working in this region and neighbouring areas can use for their own analyses and research. Moreover, in shifting the bases of categorisation and classification to the ways that pottery was made, we are able to incorporate far more of the variation that exists in the material itself. Indeed, the amount of variation can be somewhat bewildering in comparison to the standard (limiting) typological categories that populate earlier reports, and forces us to question those frameworks. Yet, we argue that it is precisely this sort of uncertainty that has to be embraced if the study of archaeological ceramics for the region of the ancient Vidarbha is going to continue to develop as a meaningful area of archaeological enquiry.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03203924
Contributor : Coline Lefrancq Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, April 21, 2021 - 10:36:21 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, April 22, 2021 - 3:25:51 AM

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Coline Lefrancq, Jason Hawkes. Accepting Variation and Embracing Uncertainty: Creating a Regional Pottery Typology in South Asian Archaeology. Open Archaeology, De Gruyter, 2020, 6 (1), pp.269-328. ⟨10.1515/opar-2020-0112⟩. ⟨hal-03203924⟩

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