Title

Ceramic Specialization and Agricultural Marginality: Do Ethnographic Models Explain the Development of Specialized Pottery Production in the Prehistoric American Southwest?

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

4-1-2005

Publication Title

American Antiquity

Volume

70

Issue

2

First page number:

295

Last page number:

319

Abstract

Ethnographic data indicate that historically, ceramic specialization is strongly correlated with agricultural and economic marginality. Where such specialization is concentrated geographically, it often is found in areas having agriculturally poor lands (Arnold 1985). Although this association is well established for modern-day and historic peasant communities, the degree to which this pattern extended into prehistory is unknown. In this paper, I evaluate the applicability of the agricultural marginality model to the prehistoric American Southwest by considering evidence from six areas where specialized pottery production is known to have occurred. The data from these areas suggest that, in the prehistoric Southwest, agricultural marginality was not the primary or sole factor leading to the adoption of part-time ceramic specializations. To understand why the ethnographic model does not apply to the prehistoric Southwest, attention must be focused on understanding the differing social and economic contexts within which prehistoric farmers and historic and modern-day peasants operated.

Disciplines

Archaeological Anthropology

Language

English

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