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Ceramic technology and technological traditions: the manufacture of metalworking ceramics in late prehistoric Scotland

Sahlen, E. Daniel (2011) Ceramic technology and technological traditions: the manufacture of metalworking ceramics in late prehistoric Scotland. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

The goal of this thesis is to investigate the manufacture of metalworking ceramics in late prehistoric Scotland (ca 1000BC – AD800) from the perspective of ceramic technology and with the aim to reconstruct social and material trajectories. This has been implemented through the use of an integrated analytical methodology, interpreted by developing current theories on technology. Previous studies of metalworking ceramics in Scotland have rarely paid full attention to ceramic technology; research has instead focused on metallurgical issues such as metal identification and material morphology. This is central for answering questions regarding metallurgical processes, but fails to answer important questions regarding the technology and manufacture of the ceramic material. The successful production of moulds and crucibles requires that a craft specialist has expert skills in the preparation and firing of clay as well as understanding of the process and design of metal casting. This makes metalworking ceramics an important resource for investigating variation in individual skill and experience, cultural traditions, and scale of production. The main focus is on moulds and crucibles, but parallels, both in terms of method and theory, are made to other types of metalworking ceramics and pottery. The technological relationship between pottery and metalworking ceramics is therefore a vital link in the assessment of production and technological traditions. In addition, clays from a number of sites have been sampled, with the goal to monitor the utilization of clays for the production of different ceramic materials. Materials from nine primary sites, from Traprain Law (East Lothian) in the south to Mine Howe (Orkney) in the north, are central to the discussion of ceramic technologies. The context of casting and crafts from further sites in Scotland and beyond has been essential in the reconstruction of casting production in the late prehistoric period. Developing from ideas of technology as an active process, this study has investigated the collection and preparation of clays to make different ceramic materials. This investigation has employed a range of analytical techniques frequently applied to the study of archaeological ceramics, including ceramic petrography, Scanning Electron Microscopy, X-Ray Spectrometry and X-Ray Diffraction. The focus has been on technology; studies of provenance are auxiliary to the broader questions. It is a central conclusion of this work that the production of metalworking ceramics saw a development towards a more specialised function and technology during the late prehistoric period, and that this development was closely related to material traditions, to some extent transcending wider social trajectories. This research, highlighting particular and general technologies, has showed that the study of ceramic technology of moulds and crucibles can be a valuable resource for the study metallurgical production and technology.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to copyright restrictions the full text of this thesis cannot be made available online. Access to the printed version is available.
Keywords: Ceramics, metalworking, late prehistoric, Scotland, theory, materials science, craft production, technology, non-ferrous
Subjects: T Technology > TT Handicrafts Arts and crafts
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > Archaeology
College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Jones, Dr. Richard E.
Date of Award: 2011
Depositing User: Mr Daniel Sahlen
Unique ID: glathesis:2011-2707
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2011
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:58
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/2707

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