Institute of Archaeology


Hannah B Page

Ceramics and Society at Ntuusi, Western Uganda

Hannah Page profile

Email: h.page@ucl.ac.uk
Section: Archaeological Sciences



Ceramics and Society at Ntuusi, Western Uganda

This study will test on eastern African ceramic assemblages a key analytical approach pioneered and used to great success in Europe. Through detailed technological analysis and composition and microstructural characterisation, the project seeks to uncover the hidden socio-cultural signals present at a microscopic and atomic level within a ceramic assemblage of enormous archaeological significance. By combining macroscopic, mineralogical (XRD), petrographic and chemical (pXRF, WD-XRF) techniques the project aims to readdress an area of study long ignored in Great Lakes Africa. The interpretation of the results alongside well-stratified archaeological data will be used to build an understanding of social and cultural organisation, craft specialisation and trade and exchange at the site of Ntuusi, Uganda, during the early 2nd millennium AD.

Ntuusi represents the first centralised settlement in Great Lakes East Africa, recording tantalising evidence for large-scale social and political organisation. Yet, the appearance and development of these new socio-political structures remains poorly understood. Significantly a new manifestation of material culture is present at the site, namely a distinctive rouletted pottery style. This project is readdressing a gap in our knowledge by critically evaluating the perceived uniformity in ceramic production in the region, drawing from ethnographic studies that suggest the significance of technological style in the representation and transmission of cultural identity (Gosselain 2000).

Overall, the study will expand our knowledge of pottery in a key period of the Great Lakes' past, replacing the static and passive notions of ceramics that have generally prevailed for one which recognises ceramics dynamic role in the creation of production systems (including craft specialisation and trade), facilitating and constraining social interaction, and negotiating cultural meanings.


  • Fieldwork grants awarded by the IoA and the Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences (UCL)
  • Small research grant awarded by the British Institute in Eastern Africa (2017)


  • BA- Egyptian Archaeology, UCL (2011)
  • MA- Artefact Studies , UCL (2012)
Conference papers

Complexity in African Ceramics? - International Symposium of Archaeometry (ISA Kalamata, 2016)

Society and Ceramics at Ntuusi, Western Uganda- Ceramic Petrology Group Meeting (CPG Leiden 2016); Lunch in the Lab (UCL, 2016)

Ceramics and Society at Ntuusi, Western Uganda- European Meeting of Ancient Ceramics (EMAC Bordeaux, 2017)

Poster Presentation

A Critical Review of Analytical Approaches to South African Early Iron Age Ceramics: Testing the potential of macroscopic analysis on ceramics from the site of Happy Rest, Limpopo Valley- African Archaeology Research Day (AARD, UEA 2013