The physical analysis of Pacific pottery
Most pottery studies in the Pacific to date have been concerned with typol9gical characteristics, particularly decorative features. Although this work has been very successful at revealing historical relationships between cultures, there is much more that could be learned of Oceanic prehistory, especially in the realm of technology, by expanding the information base in future. In particular, little is known of the physical properties of pottery in the Pacific region. This thesis is concerned with providing some basic data on this subject. Water Absorption, Apparent Porosity, Bulk Density, Specific Gravity, Hagnetic Susceptibility, Degree of Sand Temper, and Loss of Weight following a refiring test were examined for over 650 sherds selected from 30 assemblages scattered widely around the Pacific. The initial physical properties, particularly Bulk Density, Apparent Porosity and Specific Gravity were found to easily distinguish the North Pacific from South Pacific assemblages. Lapita assemblages and early North Pacific pottery types were found to be more variable in character than other types of pottery. Multivariate analysis suggests that later pottery industries were of a somewhat less differentiated character. At a lower level, it is interesting that Lapita assemblages showed a wide range but generally high values for Porosity, and higher Magnetic Susceptibility than many other types of pottery. The higher Magnetic Susceptibility may have resulted from the use of a slip of some kind. Several sherds from late assemblages from the South Pacific were fired at rather higher temperatures than early pottery. Also of interest was the fact that the Sasoa’a Thin Fine Ware possesses similar physical characteristics with that of Lapita assemblages.
Advisor: Leach, Foss
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Anthropology
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis