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VIRTUAL - Children at work and play making pottery in ancient Cyprus
October 5, 2021 @ 6:30 pm EDT Eastern Time
This is an online event.
Sponsored by: Archaeological Institute of America
AIA Society: South Pennsylvania (Carlisle)
Lecturer: Laura Gagné
The contribution of children and novices to the potters’ workshop is understudied in Cypriot archaeology. While pottery-making is best learned during childhood, most scholars do not consider the work of children to have value for study. Crudely made, misshapen little objects end up in the storage room of the museum, while the more “beautiful” objects made by experienced potters are put on display. By examining the “ugly” objects, it is possible to understand many things about how labour was organized in ancient pottery workshops and how children learned how to become proficient potters.
Hand-made pottery facilitates the assessment of the potter’s motor skills in forming vessels, while painted decoration reveals the painter’s ability to plan designs as well as to control tools. Some potters began to learn their craft at a very young age, perhaps through playing with the raw materials or making toys. Other potters may have been adults when they started to work with clay and handle paint brushes. Novices were assimilated into the community of potters by more experienced teachers who sometimes assisted them with more difficult tasks and who may have offered models or verbal instructions to them while they worked. This lecture looks at the evidence for under-developed motor control and cognitive abilities through vessel construction and brush control as well as planning of decoration to try to determine whether some of the vessels found on Cyprus were made by children.