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VIRTUAL - Who were ancient Greek sculptors in clay? Insights from their fingerprints

March 25, 2021 @ 5:30 pm EDT Eastern Time

This is an online event.

AIA Society: Ann Arbor

Lecturer: Julie Hruby

Understanding who ancient artisans were, how they learned their craft, and how artisinal labor was organized has long been of interest to both professional archaeologists and the wider public. A new tool that can be brought to bear on this question is that of dermatoglyphics, or fingerprint analysis. Prints were accidentally embedded in ancient plaster, lost-wax cast bronzes, and most frequently, ceramics before they were fired.

Ceramic sculpture ranging in size from figurines to nearly life-sized preserves the prints of those who made it. A combination of traditional and new dermatoglyphic techniques allows us to evaluate not only questions about which individuals made which objects, but also to see firsthand evidence of apprenticeship. Prints from ceramic sculpture originating at sites in the Argolid and Corinthia allows us to begin to discuss these issues in more concrete terms than has previously been possible.

Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

Åström, P., and S. Eriksson. 1980. Fingerprints and Archaeology. Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology 28. Göteborg: Paul Åström’s Förlag.

Hruby, J. 2011b. “Ke-ra-me-u or Ke-ra-me-ja? Evidence for sex, age, and division of labour among Mycenaean ceramicists.” In Tracing Prehistoric Social Networks through Technology: A Diachronic Perspective on the Aegean, edited by A. Brysbaert, 89–105. New York: Routledge.

Kamp, K., N. Timmerman, G. Lind, J. Graybill, and I. Natowsky. 1999. “Discovering childhood: Using fingerprints to find children in the archaeological record.” American Antiquity 64 2: 309–315.

Králík, M., and V. Novotný. 2003. “Epidermal ridge breadth: an indicator of age and sex in paleodermatoglyphics.” Variability and Evolution 11: 5–30.

Howland Lecture

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March 25, 2021
5:30 pm EDT
Event Category:


David Stone


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