Social signatures in standardized ceramic production – A 3-D approach to ethnographic data

Ortal Harush, Valentine Roux, Avshalom Karasik, Leore Grosman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This study explores the effects of the copying error process on material culture. The goal is to assess whether the morphometric variability of standardized vessels, generated by copying errors, can reveal both collective and individual signatures. In this perspective, we collected a corpus of 320 present-day standardized water jars, made by 23 Indian expert potters belonging to two endogamous communities distributed between eight villages. The vessels are analyzed through advanced shape analysis of ceramic vessels. The issue is to assess whether morphometric variability is observable at the ‘community,’ the ‘village,’ and the ‘individual’ scales. The results show a clear separation between the two endogamous communities, even when barely visible by the naked eye. Furthermore, village-level trends can be obtained, especially when village productions are associated with distinct learning networks. Identifying individual signatures within standardized production made by multiple potters belonging to the same learning network remains challenging.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101208
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
StatePublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Inc.


  • Ceramic production
  • Copying error
  • Individual signature
  • Learning niche
  • Morphological analysis
  • Morphometric variability
  • Standardization


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