The discipline of archaeology is by no means a simple nor singular study of the past. Due to the wide range of evidence within the archaeological record, from organic to inorganic, many different methods and approaches are taken in order to deal with the wide spectrum of differing evidence. Nevertheless, the study of pottery is without doubt one of the most important tasks taken on by any archaeologist. A great wealth of information can be gained from the study of pottery, despite its inanimate state. It is for this very reason that this essay will attempt to explore and explain the multitude of study that archaeologists apply to pottery.
As has already been stated, there are many lessons to be learned from the study of pottery. These lessons vary in both practice and utility. However, all play their part in piecing together the past. Much can be learned from pottery some of which is directly linked to the pottery itself.
Other information can be found which is more inferred than anything else. This therefore makes the study of pottery one of two parts. Firstly, the physical study of pottery, which will be dealt with in the first part of this essay, and secondly the study of the cultural insight pottery gives enabling archaeologists to understand the society from which it came.
Perhaps the most obvious way of analysing pottery is by the naked eye but its obviousness should not detract from its importance. By observing the physical attributes of any artefact a great deal can be told of its manufacture as well as its manufacturer. The practice of typology is of great use when analysing pottery. By observing the shape and size of any artefact it is often possible to date that artefact within a specific range of dates. The...