PCMA Seminar in the ‘Pot Talks’ series on metric analysis methodology in ceramic studies

During the next meeting of “Pot Talks” series we will host Dr. Meredith Brand (the American University in Cairo). The topic of the presentation is “Measuring Pots in Egypt: A Discussion and Review of Metric Analysis Methodology”.

Meredith Brand is a co-director of the Wadi el-Hudi Expedition and the project’s ceramicists. She currently is an Instructor at the Academy of Liberal Arts at the American University in Cairo. Her PhD is from the University of Toronto and her doctoral dissertation is Socio-Economic Context of Votive Pottery Production at Abydos, Egypt: A Metric Analysis Study.

Abstract: “Metric analysis is a method used in ceramic analysis to understand the relative variability in an attribute of a pottery assemblage, for example, rim diameter or vessel height. The idea behind metric analysis is that the more pottery a potter makes, the more uniform the pottery. So, pottery that is highly homogenous in terms of an attribute, like rim diameter, should be made by highly specialized potters. Based on this underlying assumption, metric analysis is used to estimate standardization and understand the economics of pottery production. The theoretical foundation of metric analysis is complicated, and there are many issues with making a direct link between variability in rim diameter, for example, and economics of production. Further, the methodology of metric analysis needs to be carefully considered.

This talk will review my research with metric analysis as a methodology to explore the various methodological concerns and provide a step by step best practice guide for study methodology and statistical analysis. This research is based on my doctoral dissertation that evaluated these methodological issues with modern pottery in Egypt. Interpreting metric analysis results is also challenging, as metric variability does not always connect to the amount of pottery a pottery makes per year. Rather, there are other social, political, and economic factors to consider. In order to highlight the complexity of interpreting metric analysis results, I will also present two metric analysis studies. One study compares the variability in rim diameter of New Kingdom – Late Period beer jars and votive dishes at Abydos used in the Abydos Festival at Umm el-Qa’ab and the Thutmose III chapel in North Abydos. The other study measures Middle Kingdom Marl C zir rim diameters at a mining settlement in Wadi el-Hudi in the Eastern Desert near Aswan.”

The seminar will be held on Thursday, 15th February, 2024, at 12.30 pm (Warsaw time) – on the Zoom platform. To receive the link, please write to pcma@uw.edu.pl

The “Pot Talks – A multidisciplinary approach to ceramics from the African area and beyond” is a thematic series within the PCMA Seminar. It is organised by Dr. Katarzyna de Lellis-Danys from the Department of African Studies, PCMA UW, and the National Museum in Warsaw. Lectures in this series will include topics related to multidisciplinary ceramic research, which will enable participants to exchange experiences with researchers working in different parts of Africa and beyond. Areas of interest include the social and economic impact of ceramics on ancient populations, archaeometric research and methodology, including data collection and management.