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Title: Consuming symbols : a study into the appearance and early role of ceramics in south eastern Turkey, northern Syria and northern Iraq from a social perspective
Author: Conroy, Rachel
ISNI:       0000 0004 2689 1008
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis presents a social perspective of the appearance and early role of ceramics during the Neolithic period in south eastern Turkey, northern Syria and northern Iraq. The need for an appreciation of the social context of this material is underpinned by the tendency in Near Eastern archaeology to use ceramics as tools to assist the formulation of chronologies, define supposed cultural boundaries and to reconstruct patterns of influence and interaction. Studies of the earliest ceramics have tended to adhere to these concerns and the social aspects of their appearance have been neglected. A number of different avenues are explored within this thesis, in order to approach the social context of early ceramics from differing perspectives. The material background and traditions of the Neolithic period are summarised, to place ceramic and other containers within a single framework for understanding. This contextual approach has been lacking from other studies of early ceramics. It is argued that ceramics did not present distinct functional advantages over existing container types and moves towards developing approaches that offer a social insight. This focuses on the increasingly complex role of consumption-related activities during the Neolithic period and the place of ceramics and other containers within this context. The theme of materiality and tradition is first approached in this chapter and forms a key strand of interpretation throughout the rest of the thesis. Ceramics are approached as a new technology and the relationship between ceramic and plaster manufacture during the Neolithic is re-evaluated. The patterns of development for plaster and ceramic technology are compared, as well as the actual manufacturing processes, in an attempt to define their relationship from a social perspective. The outcome of this is an enhanced understanding of the importance of material traditions during the Neolithic and the social significance of both technologies. A detailed analysis of the nature of early ceramic assemblages is undertaken. This concentrates on the themes of contexts of discovery, contexts of use and decoration. Material from the site of Umm Dabaghiyah in northern Iraq is presented as a case study. The aim of this analysis is to approach the social milieu of ceramic production and use. In the concluding sections, the significance of ceramics as material and symbol in the Neolithic is approached. It is argued that ceramics should be seen as an integral part of a wider Neolithic materiality, rather than an isolated aspect of material culture. The thesis concludes that the rewards of approaching early ceramics from a social perspective demonstrate the need for new methods of analysis. Ceramics must be studied within their wider context, as it is only against this background that they can be understood. It is argued that this issue needs to be addressed at the level of excavation, recording and publication in order to increase the possibilities for the study and interpretation of archaeological ceramics and the communities making and using them.
Supervisor: Campbell, Stuart Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Neolithic ceramics