Ceramic Style and History: An Inter-regional Assessment

Wahome EW. "Ceramic Style and History: An Inter-regional Assessment.". In: Mizizi: A collection of Essays on Kenya's History. Nairobi : University of Nairobi Press; 2013.


Ceramic Style and History: An interregional Assessment
In this Chapter, an attempt is made to correlate ceramic change with historical transformation through an analysis of ceramics from selected sites in Central Kenya, North Cameroon and Southern Pacific where Recent Ceramics have shown a sudden stylistic discontinuity from the pre-existing ceramic traditions. The term Recent Ceramics is used here to denote those potteries which seem to appear in all the areas under investigation when the core traditions came to their demise in one way or another. They also encompass potteries that have been described as ethnographic, a term which I consider inappropriate for ceramic technology. These potteries appear around 400 years ago in some areas like Northeastern Nigeria when the core Iron Age ceramic traditions reached their sudden demise and as late as the 18th/19th century in areas like Central Kenya where exotic products seem to have taken roots and progressively replaced the Iron Age ceramic technology.
The objective of this paper is to show that there exists a direct relationship between ceramics and history on an interregional scale. Such a relationship is effectively used to support evidence of historical change like the one cited from Muriuki above.
This assessment is based on the ceramics from three regions which are widely separated in space though they share a similar characteristic on the relationship between ceramic style and history.
This paper will cover three areas as part of the interregional assessment. The areas are:
• Central Kenya comprising materials from Gatung’ang’a, Mweiga and Recent Ceramics.
• North Cameroon covering the site of Mehe and a border site (Daima) on the Chad plains on the Northeastern Nigeria side as a comparative assemblage
• The South Pacific with emphasis on the Melanesian sites of Manus and adjoining Islands which I have already clustered into the Lapita (CPTS 4), the earliest known ceramic style in the region, followed by Early Post-Lapita (CPTS 3), Late post-Lapita (CPTS 2) and Late Prehistoric/Recent Ceramics (CPTS 1).

The sites are important in that they cover a fairly similar span from about 3000BP to present. I am particularly interested in the later phases like the Post-Lapita, Late Prehistoric/Recent Ceramics of Melanesia and the Iron Age and Recent Ceramics of Africa which are comparable and suitable in advancing a theory on ceramic change and history in their respective areas.

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