The construction and use of categories of Neolithic pottery from Wales
The thesis examines the Neolithic pottery from Wales and attempts to write a history of practices concerned with its construction and use. This work is undertaken from the standpoint that contingency, that is the constraints and possibilities of the history of objects, has a major role in their construction and use. The thesis begins with an examination of some ideas about contingency and history in archaeology, biological science, material culture studies, and philosophy to build a pragmatic methodology for the study of the material. This methodology is particularly based upon the ideas of Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Rorty. A discussion of the evidence for the Neolithic period in Wales is then followed by the application of this methodology to five regional study areas within Wales. Localised narratives about the construction and use of Neolithic pottery are produced for each region. The methodology is then applied to the study of the material from Wales as a whole to produce a more general narrative. This narrative is then related to the discussion of the period as a whole, and to previous categorisations of the Neolithic and the Neolithic in Wales. The thesis allows to addition of more precise chronological resolution and some social interpretation to a body of evidence which has previously been marginalized within British Neolithic studies.