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The Shaping of Social Complexity, Networks and Cultural Transmissions: Pottery from the Bronze and Iron Age Communities of Southern Illyria and Northern Epirus (2500-500 B.C.)

  • Author(s): Agolli, Esmeralda
  • Advisor(s): Papadopoulos, John K.
  • et al.
Abstract

This research takes a full synopsis of pottery analysis in the late prehistoric communities of southern Illyria and northern Epirus (modern state of Albania) covering a span of 2000 years from the Early Bronze to the Developed Iron Age (2500-500 B.C.)

Initially I deal with the current state of the pottery research examining the flaws of the culture-historical approach heavily amalgamated with nationalistic and ethnocentric agendas. The principal scope of this study is to apply to this type of archaeological data a cohesive theoretical and methodological framework that shifts attention on subject matters that pottery has the potential to highlight. In so doing the research focusses on a twofold perspective that considers the synchronic and diachronic dynamics: first, it deals with the technological profile of the pottery and to what extent modes of production reflect the socio-economic organization of the pre-urban societies in southern Illyria and northern Epirus. The analysis of the production step measure, standardization and innovation concludes that pottery production during late prehistory maintains a steady technological profile developed within the domain of the household and likely controlled by women within sedentary, self-subsistent and not highly hierarchical social groups based on a subsistence strategy of farming and herding. Despite its sophistication pottery production is highly conditioned by socio-economic and demographic dynamics and does not transcend the domain of the household. Second, this dissertation presents a systematic analysis of the distribution of the qualitative attributes of the pottery that aims to explore the intensity of regional and intra-regional interactions and what nuances they provide for cultural transmissions. The conceptual and ideational examination of fabric, vessel formation, and decoration indicate that the model of the regional and intra-regional interactions is entirely ruled by geographic proximity and any innovative trait occurring in the pottery is likely the result of the movement of ideas, rather than any type of formal market exchange. I argue that this spontaneous and evidently unintentional dissemination is characterized by a combination of vertical and horizontal model of transmission controlled by artisans/mothers, mothers-in-law and the apprentices/daughters and daughters-in-law who transferred by marriage from the parents' to the husband's house and thus constantly transform and enrich the tradition of pottery making.

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