Local Clay Sources as Histories of Human–Landscape Interactions: a Ceramic Taskscape Perspective

Konstantina-Eleni Michelaki, Gregory V. Braun, Ronald G V Hancock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


In this paper, we argue that pot-making should be considered in its broader landscape to reveal not only its articulation with the many other quotidian tasks undertaken by a community but also how ancient people oriented themselves in that landscape. We address this point in the context of two small Neolithic communities in southern Calabria, Italy, by treating archaeological ceramics as congealed taskscapes and implementing a novel methodology to unravel the interactions among people, materials, and landscapes. We examine how clay sources are distributed in the local landscape, what the qualities of the clays within them are, and what specific materials the Neolithic potters used in making their pots. We ask not only where in the landscape potters went to get their raw materials but also where they did not go. Their selective engagement with the landscape reveals a social understanding of parts of the landscape considered “appropriate” and “relevant” to pot-making (inland areas) and parts that were not (coastal areas). We also ask what other tasks potters could have undertaken while collecting clays. The co-occurrence of resources in the landscape highlights the need to consider the interlocking of various daily tasks and reveals which tasks could have been perceived as socially related. By explicitly considering the task of pot-making in its landscape, this paper reveals the relational and mutually constitutive articulation of both in everyday life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)783-827
Number of pages45
JournalJournal of Archaeological Method and Theory
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 27 2014


  • Ceramics
  • INAA
  • Landscape
  • Neolithic
  • Petrography
  • Southern Italy
  • Taskscape

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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