An Ethonarchaeological Study of Pottery Production in Tigray: The Case of Saharti Samre and Hintalo Wajirat Districts

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Addis Ababa University


It has been described that little is done on ethnoarchaeological investigation of pottery crafts in Ethiopia. Furthermore, except some attempts made in Hintalo-wajirat, detailed ethnoarchaeological study on pottery production in Saharti-Samre and Hintalo-Wajirat districts of Tigray region has not been conducted so far. Thus, the purpose of this study was to document the over all aspects of pottery production from ethnoarchaeological perspective so as to gain better understanding of pottery in the archaeological record. To achieve this, purposive sampling technique was employed to select both samples of pottery making villages and sample of informants. The data gathered through survey, observation and interview were analyzed qualitatively. Accordingly, the results of this study revealed that clay and sand are the basic elements for pottery making across the selected villages. In the study area pottery production is generally performed through various processes beginning from raw material procurement to paste preparation, forming and shaping, making decoration, drying, polishing and firing. Though some difference and similarities are observable in some of the stated processes among potters of the selected villages, none of these differences reflect variation in ethnicity as all potters of the selected villages belong to the same ethnic group. However, the presence of similarities in some aspects indicates the prevalence of socio-cultural contact among the artisans of the different villages. Since most activities are performed in the compound of the potters, firing pits with debris of ash, fragments of pots and toolkits employed to perform various steps of pottery making could be left in the compound of potters. Furthermore, pots could be broken and discarded outside production areas at market places and households of consumers. Thus, this study suggests that production areas, market places and households of consumers could become sources of archaeological site formation in Saharti-Samre and Hintalo- Wajirat districts



Ethnoarchaeological Investigation