Institute of Archaeology


Andean Technology

This research project led by Bill Sillar focuses on the inter-relationship between different technologies. Using ethnographic and archaeological fieldwork in the highlands of Peru and Bolivia theoretical and methodological approaches are being developed to investigate the cultural context of technology and what influences the 'technological choice' of distinct materials, tools and techniques within specific social settings.

Pottery technology has been the primary focus of this research, but Bill will also focus on diverse aspects of agricultural work, building construction, stone working and weaving. The project involves collaboration with Ann Kendall and the Cusichaca Trust, which has set a high standard for its pioneering use of archaeological analysis to inform successful, sustainable, development work including a strong focus on Andean terracing and canals.

Bill is also interested in developing research using museum collections held in Britain. He was a Specialist Panel member involved in characterizing the South American collections held at the Pitt Rivers Museum Oxford, and works closely with Colin McEwan of the British Museum.

Colin McEwan and Bill have set-up an AHRC collaborative doctoral research project: Style and media in Chimu State Art within which Kirsten Halliday has documented and analysed the BM's collection of Chimu pottery and textiles.

From 2012 Bill will be teaching a masters course option: Technology in society: Archaeological and Ethnographic approaches in the Andes.

Related outputs

  • Sillar B. 2010 La Saisonnalité des Techniques. Techniques & Culture (52-53), 90-119
  • Sillar B. 2000 Shaping Culture: Making Pots and Constructing Households. An Ethnoarchaeological Study of Pottery Production, Trade and Use in the Andes. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports International Series, 883.
  • Sillar B. and M. Tite 2000 'The challenge of 'technological choices' for material science approaches in archaeology.' Archaeometry 42(1): 2-20.
  • Sillar B. 2000 'Dung by Preference: The choice of fuel as an example of how Andean pottery production is embedded within wider technical, social and economic practices.' Archaeometry 42(1): 43-60
  • Sillar B. 1996 'The Dead and the Drying; techniques for transforming people and things in the Andes' Journal of Material Culture 1(3): 259-289.