Ceramics (As Containers)

Carl Knappett, Lambros Malafouris and Peter Tomkins

in The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780199218714
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

Ceramics (As Containers)

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  • Archaeology
  • History and Theory of Archaeology



This article focuses on the importance of ceramics in material cultural studies. It proceeds to say that ceramics are considered a key feature of human material culture because of what they are taken to represent in economic, technological, and evolutionary terms. The innovation of taking the plastic medium of clay and marrying it with pyrotechnology to create irreversibly a resilient object — usually in the form of a container, has frequently been assumed to mark a revolutionary stage in the development of modern human thought and practice, forming with agriculture and sedentism a trinity of epoch-changing innovations. This article talks about the idea of the body as being used as a container. It says that ‘Containment’ may well be the ‘function’ offering archaeology one of the most important sources of archaeological data and windows into society, and culture; but very little is known about the cognitive, experiential, and evolutionary grounding of the concepts embodied in each and every container.

Keywords: ceramics; economic; agriculture; sedentism; epoch-changing innovations; container; archaeology

Article.  8962 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; History and Theory of Archaeology

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