Shaping societies: the spread of the potter’s wheel in the western Mediterranean (1000-0 BCE)

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesInvited talk


The potter’s wheel is a technological innovation that fundamentally changed the production process of ceramics. In the western Mediterranean, its adoption corresponds to arrival of Phoenician communities that settled on the Region’s coastlines. The technology of using the potter’s wheel spread unevenly beyond these settlements, sparking the question as to which socio-economic conditions and motivations underpin its adoption.
In this presentation, I explore the dynamic between technological and socio-economic change by focusing on the spread of the potter’s wheel in the western Mediterranean during the first millennium BCE. I discuss not only possible mechanisms behind its adoption but also the role of this technological innovation itself in shaping new behaviours. Drawing on radiocarbon methodologies, I investigate regional variation in the timing of adoption of the potter’s wheel and its prevalence through the first millennium BCE. Insights from archaeometric studies are also considered to examine continuity or change in the use of ceramic raw materials alongside the introduction of the potter’s wheel, providing a bottom-up perspective on the system of technological choices, logistics, raw materials and economic contexts accompanying its adoption. These methods provide evidence for regional variation in the impact of the potter’s wheel on the organisation of ceramic production and the development of new consumption practices, informing a discussion about the relationship between technological- and socio-economic transformations.
Period7 Oct 2021
Held atDepartment of Archaeology, Durham University, Durham, UK
Degree of RecognitionLocal