Tracing the Potter's Wheel is a collaborative research project (2016-2021) focusing on the Bronze Age Aegean and combining specialist skills to tackle the issue of how technology spreads from one community to another, as viewed through a disruptive innovation: the pottery wheel. The project focuses on the appearance and development of the potter's wheel within the Bronze Age Aegean (2500 - 1200 BC).
We combine experience in petrographic analysis, experimental archaeology, and 3D visualisation, giving a comprehensive and integrative examination of the pottery production process. By reconstructing these production processes at different sites - and during different periods - we can identify previously unseen connections between communities, thus highlighting the interconnected nature of both craft and society in prehistory.
The Bronze Age Aegean offers a valuable arena for assessing the dynamics behind past cultural encounters and interaction networks and a key project objective is to better understand the multi-scalar material, technological and social interactions that facilitated the transmission of the potter’s wheel in this region. In the case of the Aegean, terms such as Anatolianization, Minoanization or Mycenaenization carry tacit indications of cultural contact, yet the technological dimension of such interactions remains poorly understood. How did the use of the potter’s wheel develop over the Bronze Age Aegean? Was it adopted or adapted differently, or at different times, within the Aegean?
The overall project methodology is constructed using three intertwined subprojects that focus on key aspects of investigating the potter’s wheel in the Bronze Age Aegean.
Reconstructing technological trajectories in the Bronze Age Aegean
Dr Jill Hilditch