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Open Archaeology

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A New Method for Contextual Analysis on Prehistoric Attitudes to Ritual Pottery

Makoto Tomii
  • Centre for Cultural Heritage Studies, Kyoto University, Yoshida-Honmachi, Sakyo, Kyoto, 606- 8501, Japan
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Published Online: 2015-11-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opar-2015-0015


This paper provides a new method for the contextual analysis of pottery in an approach to prehistoric sensibilities. Collating the contextual photographic evidence of pottery in a prehistoric ritual setting, with photographs of the pot taken after excavation from every direction, that is, omni-directional photo-taking, allows an archaeologist to demonstrably identify which surface of the pot was oriented to a certain direction in its original context. Owing to the presumably solemn and formal atmosphere of the prehistoric burial, the orientation of funerary goods is helpful for the understanding of the cognition of prehistoric people. A case study comes from the cemetery of the introductory stage of the Japanese Neolithic, and the orientation of the blackened discoloration of pottery that had appeared accidentally during open-firing in production is investigated. Results show that the prehistoric actor was fully aware of the blackened spot, and contributes to the argument for the inclination of past potters to try to prevent such accidental defect.

This article offers supplementary material which is provided at the end of the article.

Keywords: omni-directional photography; prehistoric pottery; pottery deposition; jar burial; single grave; cemetery; fire-cloud; ceramic history; Prehistoric Japan


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About the article

Received: 2015-07-23

Accepted: 2015-10-12

Published Online: 2015-11-25

Citation Information: Open Archaeology, Volume 1, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2300-6560, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opar-2015-0015.

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© 2015 Makoto Tomii. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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