Mark Dalton

Early Bronze Age British Funerary Vessels: similarities and differences in manufacturing techniques and the socio-cultural implications

Funerary pottery represents one of the most common and most important sources of information regarding ritual and social practices and identities during this period.  The vessels will be studied in far greater depth than previously attempted by supplementing macroscopic examination with methods of archaeological science and experimental archaeology.

Past ceramic studies have been mainly concerned with documenting and studying the finished form of vessels rather than the production process from the perspective of the potter (chaîne opératoire).  Past studies also perceived clear distinctions between ‘traditions’ and ‘types’ that recent research has begun to problematize.  Two early Bronze Age vessels that look the same may be made from different clay and temper ‘recipes’, and may use different manufacturing techniques.  Conversely, vessels of different types may share important features such as fabric and decoration in common. 

This project will focus on the social and cultural implications of these similarities and differences that may be significant for interpreting identity and transformation through time, and understanding the ends and beginnings of traditions, rituals and beliefs. 

Key research questions will include; how do archaeologists understand the manufacturing process of EBA funerary vessels?  Can new, more sophisticated classificatory frameworks based on construction evidence and context be devised?  How were similarities and differences in the manufacture and treatment of EBA funerary vessels used to construct and project identities?  What can EBA vessels reveal about the transmission of ceramic production techniques? 

Funding organisation

  • CDP Studentship British Museum


 Educational background

  • BSc, Biological Sciences, Greenwich University, 2002
  • Graduate Diploma, Archaeology, UCL, 2011
  • MA, Artefact Studies, UCL, 2015

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