image/svg+xml173XII/2/2021INTERDISCIPLINARIA ARCHAEOLOGICANATURAL SCIENCES IN ARCHAEOLOGYhomepage: http://www.iansa.euGeneralised Typesets in Experimental Ceramics: Widening Applicability and Maximizing Cross-cultural AssessmentsCaroline Jefra1*1University of Amsterdam, BG 1, Turfdraagsterpad 9, 1012XT Amsterdam, The Netherlands1. IntroductionOne of the principles which underpins experimental archaeology is the validity of analogy; ensuring that strong analogies are established between experimental variables selected and the archaeological record represented forms the framework against which results are measured. The process of crafting a strong analogy within an experiment design also has the efect of placing an experiment within the continuum ranging between actualistic and scientistic (Outram, 2008). On the one end of this continuum, actualism might aim to explore variables directly impacting the experiment while incorporating many conditions with indirect or unknown impact as well (such as might be the case in ceramic experiments using locally collected clays while using context-appropriate tools and working in a context-appropriate environment). At the other extreme, scientistic experiments may focus on testing a narrowly restricted set of variables while holding most variables in control (such as ceramic experiments which use commercially available clay to create briquettes with difering proportions of temper in a controlled lab environment).Fashioning in potting, particularly wheel fashioning, has been investigated with the aid of experimental archaeology to create comparative material to clarify details of archaeological material in a number of studies (Berg, 2009; Courty and Roux, 1995; Gandon et al., 2011; Jefra, 2013; 2015; Roux and Courty, 1998; Thér, 2015; Thér and Toms, 2016). To date, however, these studies have little addressed their location on the actualistic to scientistic continuum. This Volume XII ● Issue 2/2021 ● Pages 173–179*Corresponding author. E-mail: caroline.jefra@gmail.comARTICLE INFOArticle history:Received: 8thFebruary 2021Accepted: 19thSeptember 2021DOI: words:experimental archaeologyexperimental methodsceramic typesetanalogypotter’s wheelABSTRACTInvestigations tackling the production techniques used by ancient potters often rely upon experimental archaeology to clarify the relationship between surface morphology, surface topography, and the techniques, methods, and gestures used in the potting process. These experimental archaeology programmes focus on creating collections of experimental vessels to compare against archaeologically-recovered vessels, thus allowing production techniques to be identifed. Often times, however, the typesets generated are designed to address a specifc intersection of qualities; replica vessels adhere to a tight range of shapes, dimensions, paste recipes, and/or forming techniques. As such, the applicability of those typesets remains narrow and context-specifc. How, then, can researchers tackle assemblages with diverse vessel types? Or contexts composed of competing potting traditions? Or contexts with signifcant proportions of vessels from many diferent origins?This paper presents a new approach to the way that experimental typesets are designed, developed specifcally to address the problem of reliably identifying forming techniques across multiple assemblages. By focusing on accommodating common geometric possibilities of vessel shapes, a generalised typeset can allow individuals to make use of well-documented experimental data. The typeset for the Tracing the Potter’s Wheel project was designed for broad applicability, and has been made freely accessible as a reference collection. Through the creation of and comparison against a generalised typeset, heterogeneous assemblages can be better understood and resources can be directed toward answering specifc questions. This paper presents the theoretical foundations supporting the concept of a generalised typeset, as well as the practice of using a generalised typeset for analysis.
image/svg+xmlIANSA 2021 ● XII/2 ● 173–179Caroline Jefra: Generalised Typesets in Experimental Ceramics: Widening Applicability and Maximizing Cross-cultural Assessments174omission does have interesting implications, however, for a far greater number of studies have focused on identifying wheel fashioning methods and techniques without a basis in tailored experimental archaeology (e.g.Choleva, 2013; Choleva, Jung and Kardamaki, 2020; Gorogianni, Abell and Hilditch, 2016; Knappett, 1999; 2005). These studies (whose high quality is not being debated), lacking new experimental archaeology programmes, rely on the experience of the authors for successful identifcation of relevant evidence of fashioning methods and techniques. This experience may come from the comparison against existing teaching collections (such as Laboratoire Préhistoire & Technologie’s collections de la technothèque, an online reference collection of over 700 ceramic objects at, or Tracing the Potter’s Wheel Project’s own Information Hub of experimental and archaeological reference material at, or consultation with volumes such as Valentine Roux’s excellent recent publication “Ceramics and Society: A Technological Approach” (2019). The foundation of the experiences of non-experimentally derived works, however, is often based on the products of existing experiments. For this reason, it is important that scholars employing experimental approaches explicitly outline the applicability of their products for future analogies, thereby enabling scholars lacking training in application of experimental archaeology to better ascertain applicability of analogies.In considering the process of comparative typeset creation, experiments which address fashioning can be designed in a way which relates to either end of the actualism-scientism spectrum (Figure 1). Actualistic typesets might reproduce specifc paste preparation, vessel shapes, tools used, and fring processes. Each choice within this actualistic experiment serves to strengthen the analogy’s applicability to the specifc material culture it represents. On the other hand, those choices also serve to weaken the analogy’s applicability to other material culture notrepresented in those choices. Scientistic typesets, meanwhile, might include non-specifc raw materials such as commercially-available fne clay, a simple vessel shape such as a cylinder, as well as standardised tools and fring processes. This approach efectively disallows the single, strong analogy reached in the case of actualistic typesets, but vessels within the typeset maintain moderate analogy strength in comparisons across a broad swathe of vessel types.Given the benefts and the drawbacks of these two extreme examples of experimental typeset, it might be tempting to dismiss scientistic examples as irrelevant. This overlooks a few realities which deserve acknowledgement. Firstly, not all assemblages are homogenous; archaeological sites may have hosted lively exchange of material culture and have diverse types and shapes of ceramics, each formed of distinct paste recipes and fred in diferent ways. If an experimental programme is to accommodate this heterogeneity while also addressing a range of variables (such as diferent fashioning methods or techniques), then taking an actualistic approach would necessitate a rather large experimental programme. Managing the scale of an experimental programme is at the heart of the second reality which must be acknowledged. Controlling or exploring many variables within an experiment (or series of experiments) requires signifcant time and labour costs, which are not accessible to many researchers. Overall, scientistic experiments represent opportunities to accommodate the diversity which characterises some archaeological assemblages as well as opportunities to economise on time and labour investment of research.Experimental archaeology needs not always be performed at either end of this continuum between actualism and scientism, however, and each approach can be deployed