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Research Groningen Institute of Archaeology Research Research groups GIA

Archaeological analysis of Arctic ceramic technology

Tom Farrell
Tom Farrell

Tom Farrell


Supervisors: Prof. Dr. P.D. Jordan

Period of employment: 1 February 2014 - 31 January 2018

Financed by: TBA

Project Description:

This PhD project aims to elucidate prehistoric ceramic vessel use practices in the North American Arctic by means of residue analyses. Pottery appears among Arctic Palaeoeskimo groups around 2500 BP and persists until modern times, and its adoption, spread, and use has been the subject of much archaeological debate. Yet, biomolecular analyses of residues aimed at gaining direct evidence for vessel use are rare.

This project will operate at two distinct scales. First, it will employ extensive, site-based analyses of pottery from various Arctic sites. This will provide insight into pottery use practices among specific groups of people, helping to reconstruct local adaptations, foodways and lifeways, in Arctic environments. In addition, it will outline potential local changes/consistency in pottery use over time in relation to various external factors (e.g. climate change). Second, drawing on the site-based analyses, it will aim to identify more general trends and patterns of pottery use at the regional scale. This will potentially provide insight into why ceramic pottery appeared in the North American Arctic, and the potential reasons behind its subsequent spread. More general regional variations in pottery use will also be considered in relation to ecology, resource availability, and climate.

Biomolecular analyses of residues associated with Arctic pottery will be employed to address the topics outlined above. These analyses will help elucidate pottery use and resource processing by providing direct evidence of a pot’s past contents. The biomolecular data will be combined with other lines of evidence (e.g. faunal, floral, isotopic, ethnographic, typological etc.) in order to create the most complete understanding of Arctic pottery use as possible.

Last modified:23 July 2018 1.29 p.m.