image/svg+xml345XII/2/2021INTERDISCIPLINARIA ARCHAEOLOGICANATURAL SCIENCES IN ARCHAEOLOGYhomepage: http://www.iansa.euA look at the regionThe Tracing the Potter’s Wheel Project (TPW): An Integrated Archaeological Investigation of the Potter’s Wheel in the Bronze Age AegeanJill Hilditch1*, Caroline Jefra1, Loes Opgenhafen11ACASA – Archaeology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Amsterdam, PO Box 94203, 1090 GE Amsterdam, The Netherlands1. IntroductionThe Tracing the Potter’s Wheel (TPW) project is designed to identify and assess the appearance of the potter’s wheel as a technological innovation within the Bronze Age Aegean (2500–1200 BC). The project is funded in the form of an NWO-Vidi grant (2016–2021: PI, J. Hilditch) and hosted by the University of Amsterdam (UvA) within the Amsterdam Centre for Ancient Studies and Archaeology (ACASA) of the Faculty of Humanities. The project uses the potter’s wheel as a prism through which to investigate the transmission of craft knowledge and consider the ways Aegean (potting) communities were confgured and connected through time. Through sustained archaeological investigation and the creation of fne-grained chronological sequences, the Bronze Age Aegean ofers a valuable arena for assessing the dynamics behind past cultural encounters and interaction networks. A key TPW objective is to better understand the interactions that facilitated the transmission of the potter’s wheel in this region.Identifying the use of the potter’s wheel within a ceramic assemblage is only the start of the process for reconstructing the interactions through which this technology was adopted and adapted. To assess whether the potter’s wheel was used by local potters, rather than merely appearing as imported wheel-made pots, all vessels with wheel traces must be situated within the local ceramic production sequence or chaîne opératoire, both compositionally and technologically. The method of wheel use is also important for assessing transmission of technical knowledge, as wheel-coiling (or wheel-fnishing) is distinct from the wheel-throwing technique, requiring diferent physical gestures and technical know-how. Indeed, the transition from wheel-coiling to wheel-throwing remains a poorly understood and rarely explored technological development generally. The scope of these project research questions has driven the development of resources for future work, including an open access archive for compositional and technological features of wheel-made ceramics (both experimental and archaeological). Digital archiving strategies also play a key role, both for visualising project research results and promoting public engagement with technological approaches to material culture. Following this strategy, the TPW archive has been built to serve as a dynamic learning tool for specialists and non-specialists alike. The integration of experimental, Volume XII ● Issue 2/2021 ● Pages 345–355*Corresponding author. E-mail: j.r.hilditch@uva.nlARTICLE INFOArticle history:Received: 13thFebruary 2021Accepted: 25thMarch 2021DOI: words:ceramic analysisdigital archaeologyexperimental archaeologyopen access reference collectionpotting technology3D visualisationABSTRACTThis backstory article discusses the work of the Tracing the Potter’s Wheel Project (TPW), an integrated archaeological research project using the potter’s wheel as a prism through which to investigate the transmission of craft knowledge in the Bronze Age Aegean. The TPW methodology integrates theoretical perspectives on social interactions, technological processes and innovation, with experimental, 3D digital and analytical methods for visualising and interpreting ceramics. Two central goals have emerged: to provide high-quality resources and standardised guidelines for researchers to learn how to technologically assess assemblages in their own research, and to broadly defne the nature of the uptake and use of the pottery wheel in the Aegean during the Late Bronze Age.
image/svg+xmlIANSA 2021 ● XII/2 ● 345–355Jill Hilditch, Caroline Jefra, Loes Opgenhafen: The Tracing the Potter’s Wheel Project (TPW): An Integrated Archaeological Investigation of the Potter’s Wheel in the Bronze Age Aegean346technological and digital datasets will ultimately help to refne the identifcation of wheel-use strategies within the archaeological assemblages under study and subsequently assess the development of these strategies in the Late Bronze Age Aegean.2. Regional context for the case studyThe appearance of the potter’s wheel in the Bronze Age Aegean has been understood as two potentially independent events, which relate to two diferent chronological horizons (Knappett, 1999; Choleva, 2012; Rutter, 2013). The frst horizon belongs to the Lefkandi I/Kastri phase of the later Early Bronze (EB) II period, widely interpreted as resulting from increased trade in metals between groups in the Aegean and western Anatolia (Renfrew, 1972; Sotirakopoulou, 1993). The vessels of this phase are known as “Anatolianising” (Şahoğlu, 2007). In the second horizon, the wheel is perceived as a Minoan technology, distributed beyond the borders of Crete as part of a technological package attesting to growing Minoan power and infuence within the southern and central Aegean (Minoanisation – Hägg and Marinatos, 1984; Macdonald et al., 2009; Gorogianni et al., 2016) – Figure 1.Recent analysis supports the use of wheel-coiling during the frst use of the potter’s wheel in the Near East and Aegean regions (Roux, 2003; 2009; Roux and Jefra, 2015; Jefra, 2013; 2019; Choleva, 2012). This technique exists alongside other handmade techniques during the later phase of the EB II right up until the end of the Bronze Age (Choleva, 2018; 2020; Choleva, Jung and Kardamaki, 2020; Jefra, 2013; 2019). Our understanding of the transition from wheel-coiling to wheel-throwing throughout the Aegean, however, is still based upon the traditional narrative of an increasingly broad adoption of the potter’s wheel as a manufacturing technology across the region, culminating in mastery of the wheel-throwing technique by Mycenaean communities of the mature Late Bronze (LB) period. Yet the development of this innovation, when and how potters learned to centre a lump of clay on the wheel in order to draw up a pot rather than rotating a preformed (coiled) roughout, remains assumed rather than empirically supported.Two major Aegean settlements with ideal ceramic datasets were chosen to investigate the development and transmission of the potter’s wheel in this region: Knossos on the island of Crete, and Tsoungiza in the Argolid (see Figure 2). Both settlements have yielded rich, diachronic ceramic assemblages spanning (at least) the EB to the latest phases of the LB period, and ofer valuable insights on the nature of Minoan and Mycenaean ceramic communities of practice. At each settlement, TPW will focus on the ceramic deposits