Toward the identification of social signatures in ceramic production - An archaeological case study

Ortal Harush*, Leore Grosman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Ceramic analysis has been concerned with categorizing types according to vessel shape and size for describing a given material culture at a particular time. This analysis' long tradition has enabled archaeologists to define cultural units across time. However, going into the analysis of sub-typological variations is rarely done, although their meanings bear significant consequences on the understanding of ties between individuals and social units. This study, aiming to assess whether it is possible to identify social signatures, focuses on a single archaeological ceramic type. For this propose, we selected a corpus of 235 storage jars from two distinct periods: storage jars from the Intermediate Bronze Age (the 25th -20th century BCE); and the Oval Storage Jar type (hereafter: OSJ) from the Iron Age II (the late 9th- early 6th century BCE). The vessels selected were 3-D scanned to extract accurate geometric parameters and analyzed through an advanced shape analysis. The study results show that integrating computational and objective analysis methods, focusing on the "minute variation"within a single ceramic type, yields substantial insights regarding the relationship between variability and social units. In addition to the methodological guidelines and the suggested "work protocol"for further studies, the results shed light on the social organization of the Intermediate Bronze Age and the Iron Age II in Southern Levant.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere0254766
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7 July
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Harush, Grosman. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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