ACTION ON MATTER: THE HISTORY OF THE UNIQUELY AFRICAN TAMPER AND CONCAVE ANVIL POT-FORMING TECHNIQUE

In: Journal of African Archaeology

The publication, largely by ethnoarchaeologists, of new data on the tamper and concave anvil technique of pot-forming (TCA) permits a reassessment of this uniquely African technique, its toolkit, and its culture history. A survey, inspired by the technologie culturelle school, of its varied expressions in the southern Saharan, Sahelian and northern Sudan zones from Mali to Sudan and extending north into Egypt emphasises the potential of the technique for the efficient production of spherical water jars of high volume to weight ratio, much appreciated in arid environments. The technique is demanding and therefore practised for the most part by specialists. The origins and diffusion of the technique are assessed in the light of the ethnological, archaeological, linguistic, and historical evidence, and a four stage historical development is sketched.

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