A Typology of Practice: The Archaeological Ceramics from MahurjhariOpen Data

Coline Lefrancq1, Jason Hawkes2, Jaseera C.M.3 and R.K. Mohanty4

1. Institute Français de Pondichéry, 11 Saint Louis Street, Pondicherry 605001, India / Research Centre in Archaeology and Heritage, Université libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium / Research Centre HiSoMA, CNRS, Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée, Lyon, France
2. Department of Asia, The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG
3. Department of Epigraphy and Archaeology, Tamil University, Tanjore, Tamil Nadu, India
4. Deccan College Post Graduate and Research Institute, Pune 411006, Maharashtra, India

Cite this as: Lefrancq, C., Hawkes, J., C.M. Jaseera and Mohanty, R.K. 2019 A Typology of Practice: The Archaeological Ceramics from Mahurjhari, Internet Archaeology 52.


Potter from Namuza Palpara, Bogra district, Bangladesh. Image credit: Authors.

This article presents the results of the analysis of the pottery from the recently excavated site at Mahurjhari in central India. In doing so, it also proposes a new way of looking at archaeological ceramics in South Asia. Here, archaeological ceramics are traditionally defined on the basis of their visual appearance (their colour and texture), which results in a great deal of ambiguity, limits intra- and inter-regional comparison, and impedes a more material culture-based approach to their study. Indeed, there is no established pottery typology for the region in which this site is located, and despite the fact that ceramics invariably account for the majority of excavated assemblages they frequently remain unreported. Addressing this, we suggest that recording and analysing archaeological ceramics on the basis of how they were made (essentially, implementing a chaîne opératoire approach) might be a useful way to proceed. Given that such approaches are new in this area, we explain what this entails, and then present the results of the analysis of this pottery assemblage using these methods—defining classes of pottery on the basis of traces left by the ways they were made. With a typology thus defined on the basis on the practice of pottery manufacture, we then seriate the assemblage with reference to recent AMS dates obtained from the site and suggest a chronological sequence for the pots from this site. These results are then framed within a wider discussion of the potential value of the application of new ways of looking at archaeological ceramics in South Asia.

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