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Adventures in Minoan Crete: Reconstructing Life from Pottery Sherds

Emilia Oddo (Tulane University)
A photo of Emilia Oddo
Friday, March 3, 2023 - 3:30pm
UW campus, Denny 213 or by Zoom
Ceramic fragments are the number one find, in quantity, in any archaeological excavation in the Mediterranean. Far from being simple parts of a broken pot, these fragments have an almost unlimited potential. From building chronologies through their incredible decorative variety to fabric analysis taking us through the complex journey of manufacturing pottery, pottery teaches us to treat it humbly and with respect. And yet, the idea of specializing in pottery analysis feels to most neophyte archaeologists as abstruse and niche, detached from the thrilling archaeological experience of reconstructing ancient life. 
In this lecture, I will focus on how ceramic sherds can be your best friends, in an excavation, becoming crucial elements of your investigation. I will discuss how powerful information is hidden in the sherd if only we look at it as a small snapshot of a pot’s broader story in relation to its context. We will see how, from how the pot was used to how it was discarded, deposited, and finally found, sherds are able to suggest the depositional and post-depositional processes they went through. This type of information is vital if we hope to reconstruct the activities at any given site. To illustrate these points, I will discuss my analysis of two different pottery deposits from Bronze Age Crete: one from the House of the Frescoes at Knossos, in north-central Crete, and the other from a large cistern at Myrtos-Pyrgos, in the southeast of the island. We will see how powerful ceramic fragments can be in helping us piece together a story.

This lecture is open to the public. Register here to attend by Zoom. 
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