POTTERS ON THE PENOBSCOT: AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL CASE STUDY EXPLORING HUMAN AGENCY, IDENTITY, AND TECHNOLOGICAL CHOICE
Archaeology has a long history of dehumanizing the past by placing artifacts at the center of archaeological inquiry while neglecting human agency and the dynamic relationship between humans and their material culture. This is due, in part, to an over-reliance on normative approaches to archaeology such as typologies, culture histories, and artifact-centered research designs that disengage people from their technologies and erase them from archaeological interpretations of the past. This study humanizes past peoples by applying theories of agency, technological choice, and Indigenous archaeologies to an archaeological case study from Maine, U.S.A. With these theoretical principles as a framework, I evaluate a land-use model that suggests Native peoples in Maine organized themselves into distinct coastal and interior populations prior to European contact. By comparing potters’ choices along the ceramic production sequence, the study reveals spatial and temporal distinctions in pottery assemblages from the Penobscot River Valley in central Maine. These are interpreted as reflective of different contexts of ceramic production. Additionally, observations of potters’ choices through time show that changes in ceramic technology were not uniform throughout the Penobscot River valley and in some cases, ceramic recipes remained remarkably stable despite wide-spread changes in surface treatments or “decoration.” Finally, this study aligns with Indigenous archaeologies theory by empowering past potters in their material realm, thereby acknowledging their humanity.
Newsom, Bonnie D., "POTTERS ON THE PENOBSCOT: AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL CASE STUDY EXPLORING HUMAN AGENCY, IDENTITY, AND TECHNOLOGICAL CHOICE" (2017). Anthropology Faculty Scholarship. 41.